New Casey Foundation Investment in Philadelphia Aims to Improve Job Prospects for Young Adults

YouthBuild Philly is proud to be a core partner in Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Generation Work initiative. Philadelphia has been named one of five cities to receive a four-year grant to improve employment opportunities for young adults.

This work is strongly aligned with our vision of improving opportunities for young people across the city. We look forward to all the collaboration ahead with AECF, JOIN Collaborative, 1199C Training Fund and Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc. – and the many stakeholders this project will engage – to address youth unemployment in Philadelphia and beyond.

Read on for the full release:

New Casey Foundation Investment in Philadelphia Aims to Improve   Job Prospects for Young Adults

Nearly $1 Million to be Awarded Over Four Years to Strengthen the Next Generation of Workers and Meet Employer Demand

PHILADELPHIA — The Annie E. Casey Foundation announced today that it will award $6 million in grants over the next four years to increase job opportunities for America’s young adults in five cities, enabling them to begin building careers and develop the skills employers need. Nearly $1 million will be invested in Philadelphia through a new, nimble, initiative called Generation Work.

Generation Work will bring the best efforts of employers, funders, policymakers and practitioners together to match training and education with the skills needed in the workplace. This project leverages the collective expertise of four nationally-recognized core partners in Philadelphia — the Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN), Philadelphia Youth Network, YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School, and District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund – and connects Philadelphia to a national learning community for four years of investment by the Casey Foundation in building the infrastructure needed to get more young adults working.

“Our future workforce is one of our nation’s greatest assets, and we cannot compete globally unless it is strong,” said Allison Gerber, a senior associate who oversees the Casey Foundation’s investments in improving job opportunities for low-income individuals and families. “The next generation is eager to work, but we must create more avenues for young adults to develop the knowledge and experience they need to succeed in the job market.”

While the Great Recession hit many hard, teens and young adults have experienced the most drastic drop in employment, data shows. In Philadelphia the need for action and change is urgent; nearly one in five young Philadelphians is disconnected – out of work and out of school. Across the country, millions of young people — particularly young people of color and from low-income families — face obstacles to employment or education, and the percentage of young people ages 18–29 in the job market has steadily declined in recent years. At the same time, employers often struggle to find workers with the right set of skills for available positions.

Generation Work aims to combine building relationships with businesses, factoring in their needs in the local economy, with youth development strategies to prepare young people for work, such as mentoring and on-the-job learning opportunities.

“Through Generation Work, we aim to transform Philadelphia’s skill development landscape so that all young adults (18-29) have access to relevant, engaging careers and employers have access to strong, productive talent pipelines,” said Jennie Sparandara, Director of JOIN.

“We can only do this through partnerships with employers, funders, practitioners and policymakers that share the same commitment to strengthening our workforce,” added Jim Cawley, president and CEO, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), the managing partner of the JOIN funders collaborative.”

Philadelphia was selected for funding because it has demonstrated a promising approach to young adult employment, with a particular focus on those facing some of the greatest obstacles to getting a job; the ability to effectively implement services for young job seekers and employers; and the potential to help foster broader uptake of their approaches in their respective geographic areas, among other strengths.

“Partnership is the key to success when it comes to aligning all of our best strategies, citywide, to ensure young Philadelphians are able to reach the next level in their professional and personal goals,” said Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Youth Network. “We are able to reach higher, and achieve greater results when we grow together as a team. I look forward to working with 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund, YouthBuild and other leaders to combine our collective efforts and systemic tools to expand opportunity so that access to employment and education are no longer hurdles to jump, but doors to open.”

JOIN, housed and managed by UWGPSNJ, will serve as the grant manager. The Foundation’s award will be used in the first year to engage key stakeholders and plan the implementation and evaluation of strategies to increase young adults’ access to job opportunities. Funding in subsequent years will support  documenting the impact of their efforts and promoting the use of these strategies on a broad scale in the public, private and nonprofit sector.


The Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN) is a partnership between philanthropy, government, community organizations and employers that develops and supports innovative efforts to eliminate the mismatch between the level of skill required for high growth jobs and the much lower skill level of many working age Philadelphians. JOIN is housed and managed by United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. For more information, visit

The Philadelphia Youth Network is an intermediary organization dedicated to equipping young people with the skills necessary to accomplish academic achievement, economic opportunity and personal success. To succeed in this mission, we bring together cross-sector partners from around the city to expand access to services for underserved youth and young adults ages 12-24. For more information, visit

District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund – District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund, a labor management partnership comprised of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees AFSCME and 50 healthcare employers, serves as a healthcare workforce intermediary and an educational institution. Since its creation in 1974, the Training Fund has built the capacity of the Delaware Valley’s healthcare industry to create a highly-skilled workforce through on-the-job training opportunities and the development of an education pipeline of skilled talent that matches the workforce needs of Delaware Valley healthcare employers. For more information visit

YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School – The mission of YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School is to provide out-of-school youth in Philadelphia with the broadest range of tools, supports and opportunities available to become self-sufficient, responsible and productive citizens in their community. The first year of our program offers high school dropouts a second chance to earn their diplomas while developing vital job skills through rigorous academics, vocational training and community service; the second year supports them towards success in employment or postsecondary education. Learn more at

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit

Congratulations Class of 2011!

More than 1000 family members, friends, and partners joined YouthBuild Philly for our Class of 2011 Commencement Ceremony on August 26th at Zion Baptist Church.  After a rigorous year of transformation and skill building, 105  former dropouts joined the ranks of nearly 1800 young people who have earned diplomas at YouthBuild.

For the third consecutive year, Mayor Michael A. Nutter joined us to celebrate the occasion, congratulate the graduates, and encourage them to continue their education. Over 50% of the graduates plan to attend a post-secondary school, and many already earned college credits this summer at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP).

This year, YouthBuild awarded its first annual Legacy Award honoring a community member who has made a lasting impact on YouthBuild students and alumni.  The 2011 Legacy Award was presented to David E. Thomas, Dean of the Division of Adult and Community Education at CCP. During the 2010-11 Academic Year, David worked to strengthen connections between YouthBuild and CCP, including structuring a summer bridge program that resulted in a 210% increase in enrollment and an 82% completion rate.  As YouthBuild Executive Director Simran Sidhu said, “Thanks to David’s lasting contributions, every YouthBuild graduate will have a better opportunity to achieve their dreams. ”

Student speakers included Class of 2011 Valedictorian Chiquita Smith, the Co-Salutitorians, Amika Miller and Sharnice Miller, Staff Award presenters Amir Johnson and Dwayne Thompson, and John Gallery Leadership Award recipient Naja Bland.  Naja said:

A leader to me has the ability to change for the better, keep moving forward, and make the best decisions to the best of their abilities. Leaders are respectful, considerate of others and themselves, positive, and resilient. These are some of the qualities of the leaders I attended school with this past year.

To see more pictures of the ceremony, please visit our Facebook page here, and leave a comment to shout-out our graduates!

Do you know a high school dropout?

Attention Philadelphia: YouthBuild is now accepting applications for the 2011-12 school year!

YouthBuild is an opportunity for out-of-school youth, between the ages of 18-20, to earn a high school diploma and prepare for the future. Most importantly, we are looking for young people who are motivated to learn, serve, succeed, and change their lives.

When students are asked what they like most about the program, the most common answer is, “YouthBuild Philadelphia is a family.” In addition to our multi-layered support system, YouthBuild provides the opportunity for young people to:

  • Earn a high school diploma
  • Receive hands-on job training
  • Certification in construction, healthcare, or technology
  • Prepare for college and careers

More than 1700 young adults have completed the program since 1992, and our graduates consistently move on to college and full-time employment.  To learn more about YouthBuild, please continue to browse our blog, visit our website, and watch this video.

Please see detailed eligibility requirements, including:

  • 18 to 20 years old on the first day of enrollment.
  • Resident of Philadelphia
  • Officially dropped out of school (transfer students and post-graduates are not eligible)


Volunteers needed for Transformation Interviews: June 8-10

YouthBuild is looking for volunteers to participate in Transformation Interviews, YouthBuild Philadelphia’s capstone project. In the panel interview, students are asked to reflect on their time at YouthBuild, discuss their transformation as a student and young adult, and demonstrate readiness to go on to post-secondary education or careers.

Panels are comprised of teachers, other YouthBuild staff and volunteers. The Panel members will ask probing questions encouraging students to reflect on their experiences and clearly articulate their ideas, as well as prepare students for job and college interviews. Volunteers play a critical role as the relatively unfamiliar face and voice for the students — providing student’s with feedback from outside the YouthBuild world and pushing students to explain their transformation to a new audience.

Volunteers (over 18) need minimal interview/presentation experience, and a brief training will be provided prior to your first panel. This is also a great opportunity for members of organizations or corporations to volunteer as a group!

Volunteers are needed for each session, morning (8:30-11:30 am) and afternoon (12:30-3:30), June 8, 9, 10.

You can sign up online here or contact Volunteer Coordinator Rory Katz at


Thanks to the support of our students, staff, and friends — 2344 in all — we finished #45 out of thousands of organizations competing in Chase Community Giving!  More importantly, we will be able to contribute $25,000 toward our post-secondary initiative. This prize money will help us better serve our students and graduates as they prepare and transition to college, trade schools, and careers.

The best part about a voting competition is that every person’s voice counts equally, and we are proud that our students were able to rally so many votes to support their school. The Class of 2011 certainly left its mark on YouthBuild!

Lastly, we are amazed by the outpouring of support from our friends in Philadelphia and across the country. Each vote was a vote of confidence for the future of these young people, and each vote truly made a difference!

Vote for us on Facebook – Help us win a donation from Chase!

Chase Community Giving is donating another $5 million dollars to charities and non-profit organizations through Facebook, and YouthBuild Philadelphia is in the running!

Please take two minutes RIGHT NOW to vote for us!

Here’s how:

First, you have to “LIKE” Chase Community Giving here: Follow this link to their page.

Then go to this page to VOTE for YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School!

Chase Community Giving

After you VOTE, it will ask you to ALLOW Chase Community Giving access to your Facebook. Please click ALLOW.

You can make sure your vote is counted by checking THIS PAGE (it should say “thanks for your vote”).

Most importantly, SHARE this on your Facebook status! (Copy and paste this link: and ask your friends to vote!)

It takes a few steps, but your effort will help YouthBuild continue our important work in Philadelphia, and allow us to support our students as they transition to college and careers!

You have 10 votes, so find a few other organizations your support and vote for them to join us in the top 100!


ADVOCACY ALERT: Support the National YouthBuild Movement!

Last month, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1 (the Continuing Resolution for FY’11), which proposed to cut over $60 billion in government spending for the rest of the fiscal year. The measure called for the elimination of both YouthBuild and the Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps). See the proposed cuts here (PDF).

While the Senate defeated this proposal last week, it also defeated the alternative bill, which would have level-funded these programs, over concerns that there were not enough funding cuts contained in that bill. Another short-term Continuing Resolution passed, and it expires this Friday, March 18th.

Congress is likely to pass at least one more temporary extension before reaching a compromise (on Friday, the House Appropriations Committee introduced another Continuing Resolution to allow government spending to continue from March 19th to April 8th). This gives us a terrific opportunity to once again provide our elected officials with information regarding the effectiveness and scope of YouthBuild programs.

How can YOU help?

1. Call your U.S. Representatives and Senators TODAY, March 16th to urge him/her to keep YouthBuild appropriations level funded in FY’11 (see talking points for each elected official below). Showing a coordinated effort will help strengthen our cause so please, please participate.  Policymakers insist that they need to hear more from their constituents to know what is important to the people in their Districts – these phone calls do make a difference!

2. Ask Corporate Supporters to sign on to a support letter for YouthBuild. (Click here for the letter.) Corporate supporters do not need to send their signature:  just an email to telling me the name and title of the person who should be listed.  Click here for a draft email you can send to your contacts requesting their help, to be modified according to your relationship.  Our deadline is next Thursday, March 17th.

3. Sign this online petition to support YouthBuild (Click here). YouthBuild alumni from across the nation are mobilizing online to save federal YouthBuild funding. Please show your support by signing this online petition and sharing it with your friends.

Continue reading “ADVOCACY ALERT: Support the National YouthBuild Movement!”

Sponsor a Student’s Service Trip to Rebuild the Gulf Coast!

YouthBuild Philadelphia is proud to offer the opportunity for 30 students to travel to the Gulf Coast for a week long service trip. The spring break trip (April 16-22) will give students — most of whom have never traveled outside of Philadelphia — the opportunity to experience a new area of the country and support ongoing recovery efforts for homeowners of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The spring break rebuilding trip is part of the school’s legacy — providing community service in an effort to transform young people’s lives while revitalizing neighborhoods. YouthBuild Philadelphia has joined Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts twice since Hurricane Katrina, and students constructed two house frames that were sent to Lafayette, La. and Gulfport, Miss. for new homes for displaced families.

Five years after Hurricane Katrina, the funding and volunteer numbers for recovery efforts are decreasing, but there are many families that still need homes. This year, YouthBuild students and staff will travel to Camp Victor in Ocean Springs, Mississippi to support the rehabilitation efforts, including rebuilding homes, gutting houses, and cleaning vacant or damaged properties.

To help make this trip possible, we are asking supporters to sponsor a student by making a tax-deductible donation to Friends of YouthBuild Philadelphia:

  • $1500 to cover transportation to the Gulf Coast for all 30 students
  • $500 to sponsor one student, including travel, meals, lodging, and service materials
  • $250 to provide meals for the week for one student
  • $50 for transportation for one student to the Gulf Coast
  • $35 to provide one day and night at Camp Victor for one student

Make a donation to Friends of YouthBuild Philadelphia online via Network for Good or mail a check to YouthBuild Philadelphia (attn: Meredith Molloy) at 1231 N. Broad St, 3rd Fl, Philadelphia, PA 19122.

Students to Complete Energy-Star Certified Home

YouthBuild Philadelphia’s first signature green rehabilitation project is almost ready for a new first-time homebuyer! The project on Uber Street in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia is in partnership with Nicetown Community Development Corporation.

The rebuilding commenced in 2009 during a special demolition event with community volunteers and YouthBuild’s Class of 2010 led the energy-efficient and “green” rehabilitation project. Current YouthBuild students in the Green Building and Advanced Construction squads finished the home to Energy-Star Certification.

Nicetown CDC and YouthBuild will celebrate the completion of the home with a ribbon cutting ceremony in April. Please keep an eye out for an invitation in coming weeks!