Student Life Presents: Black Wall Street

February 22, 2019– In celebration of Black History Month, YouthBuild Philly students participated in conversations and events city-wide that celebrated Black History. Discussion topics ranged from the impact of gun violence on students and education to how to teach Black History to students in schools today. The discussions helped to further the conversation on ways to continue to improve the Black community. In an effort to inspire the YouthBuild community, YouthBuild Philly’s Student Life team hosted a Black Wall Street event where entrepreneurs and business owners shared words of wisdom about their journey to entrepreneurship and encouraged students to become their own boss.

“Student Life believed this event was necessary to try to bridge the enormous economic gap in the Black community. As we have discussed in our Community Change Workshop, the Black dollar circulates only 6 hours in the Black community, which challenged us to try to brainstorm ways to inspire our students to continue to envision an equitable society where their communities could be just as prosperous as their counterparts. We also wanted to show our students that they can turn their passions and interests into gainful careers and expose them to ways they can be their own boss. By connecting them with entrepreneurs with the same mission, which is to continue to dream of a day where their communities return to being self- reliant, we hope to engage them in a tradition of expanding and building on this conversation,” said Jasmine Newton, Community Project Coordinator.

Far Right: Jasmine Newton, Community Project Coordinator

The Black Wall Street networking event highlighted local black-owned businesses, offering students the opportunity to connect and learn how to turn their passions into a profitable business. Some of the participating businesses included: A Single Suggestion, Dre’s Water Ice, Mel’s Butter Blends, Marsh & Mane, Cupcakeology, Historical Dream and Swiss Haus Bakery which is now a Black-owned business, and donated items by JNew Art.

In addition to networking, vendors provided product samples and donated products to the student raffle.

Erika Burnett, Creator of A Single Suggestion
Melissa Lamarre, Owner of Mel’s Butter Brands
Nina Grier, Owner of Historical Dream
Janea Robinson, Owner of Marsh & Mane

Guests also provided tips and answered questions on how to start a business and manage the stress that comes with being a business owner. Additionally, the panel shared stories of how their passions led them to the path of entrepreneurship.

“I decided, instead of complaining about a product I could just open my own business.” -Dre’s Water Ice and Icecream

YouthBuild’s Student Life team created an experience that will be remembered for years to come. Students left the event feeling inspired and more confident to explore the possibilities of their own entrepreneurial paths. Some students even walked away with an internship opportunity.   

“For me the event was exciting, I talked with the owner of Mel’s Butter Blends, which sells natural products for hair and skin, all of the products sold are raw, natural and moisturizing. Eventually, Ms.Mel and I began to converse about my hair and the journey that I have been on to keep my hair moisturized. She began to ask me what I do here at YouthBuild as a student and I explained it to her. After my explanation, she offered me an internship where I would be working closely with her and attending various events with her!” – Brittany Hammond, Class of 2019

Events like Black Wall Street are exactly what Black History Month is all about. Reflecting on history and inspiring change that will continue well beyond the month of February.

“Believe in your Dream!”

Happy Black History Month!

GreenBuild & Drexel join together to impact the community

February 8, 2019– GreenBuild students had their first meeting at the Drexel University Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, beginning a partnership with Drexel Dornsife Center and Drexel Writers Room. The partnership marks YouthBuild’s GreenBuild vocation track’s move into the early stages of being a solar contractor. The day began with an overview and tour of the Dornsife Center, which is a neighborhood hub in West Philadelphia that focuses on programming that supports the community and the surrounding neighborhoods. This stakeholder driven facility works with many nonprofits to solve community issues, especially those related to health and wellness, by promoting community development.

To help develop the community, GreenBuild, led by George Jenkins, is working to create job opportunities in the growing solar energy industry here in Philadelphia.  Over the next three years, funding is set up to launch GreenBuild as a solar contractor, eventually leading to internships and employment opportunities offered through this emerging partnership.

George Jenkins (GreenBuild Instructor)

To put the opportunity into perspective, current GreenBuild students spoke with four alumni, who were Building Trades students during their time at YouthBuild. Alumni spoke about their career experiences, highlighting how they were able to be successful and use the skills they learned at YouthBuild to grow professionally. The meeting sparked excitement among GreenBuild students and served as inspiration for what’s to come.

Ameen Akbar (Director of Student Life) & George Jenkins with GreenBuild Alumni.

“Turning the Dream Into Action”- MLK Day of Service

January 21, 2019– MLK Day of Service is a powerful day where people throughout the nation come together to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through service. At YouthBuild Philly, we continued this tradition for the seventh consecutive year. On Monday, more than 200 YouthBuild Philly students, staff and community partners joined together to revitalize the hallways, stairwells and community spaces of Franklin S. Edmonds Elementary in Northwest Philadelphia. Past projects have taken place at William Rowen Elementary, Zeigler Elementary, Longstreth Elementary, Morton Elementary, McMichael Elementary, and Dr. Ethel D. Allen Promise Academy.

The project spearheaded by YouthBuild Philly’s AmeriCorps Community Project Coordinators included 70 murals painted throughout the school displaying inspirational messages specially requested by F.S. Edmonds students. Take a look at some of the quotes that will now serve as a dose of inspiration for students as they walk through the hallways and common areas:

“Okay Ladies Now Let’s Get in Formation”- Beyonce

“Rise & Grind”
“Don’t Give Up.”
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”- Maya Angelou
“Strive not to be a success, but rather be a value.”- Albert Einstein
“Feed Your Dreams.”

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead.

The amount of teamwork that went into making the day possible was nothing short of impressive. From the prepwork days leading up to the project to the finishing touches on the last mural, this community project took an incredible amount of hard work and dedication as a team.

Prepwork days before:

Finishing touches:

Special thanks to our community partners– without their help and support, we could not have completed this ambitious project. Volunteers from Saint Gobain, The Philadelphia Phillies, TD Bank, Gap, Inc., Philadelphia Airport, DMi Partners, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. all rolled up their sleeves to serve with us. We truly enjoyed making a difference in the community TOGETHER.

Some of our community partners:

Saint Gobain
The Philadelphia Phillies
TD Bank
Philadelphia Airport

“Community work is doing work WITH the people around you to make the community better.”- Anthony Smith, Social Studies Teacher, YouthBuild Philly.

We are honored to have partnered WITH the team at F.S. Edmonds to help create a supportive learning environment for the students. May we continue to work together every day to turn Dr. King’s dream into action.

See video below for a recap of MLK Day of Service 2019 and a special message from F.S. Edmonds Principal, Yasir N. Roundtree:

Make a Ripple, Start a Wave #YBWave

dropPlease click above to make a ripple and join the #YBWave today!

Now riding its 27th year, the YouthBuild Philly wave has had a tremendous impact across the city. More than 2,600 young people have earned their high school diplomas at YouthBuild, and demonstrated a commitment to community service that has rippled far beyond their graduation date. Our leaders have completed more than 1,000,000 hours of community service since YouthBuild’s inception, and many continue to lead in their families, communities and careers after establishing this commitment to service at our school. Please click over to our alumni success stories to learn more about Malik Madley (’16) and Zurrell Toney (’09, Valedictorian) and read about how each young man has continued to grow the #YBWave through their ripples in the community.

The original ripples of YouthBuild Philly began in 1992, when Dorothy Stoneman’s YouthBuild model spread from East Harlem to provide 28 young people with an opportunity to change their lives, and their community. That first group of students worked out of a church basement in South Philadelphia, rehabbing homes while studying for a GED exam. With many ripples along the way, our program has now grown to 225 students, with four different vocational training options, a full academic curriculum leading to a high school diploma, dozens of postsecondary and employment partners, and a full career development team to ensure long-term success for each of our graduates.


Our program has been so instrumental in creating new opportunities for young people across Philadelphia that we were able to launch a Learning Exchange program this year, designed to share YouthBuild’s “secret sauce” with other youth development programs around the city and region, with a goal of paving the way for meaningful leadership opportunities for the brilliantly talented and highly motivated young people our programs work with – chances that these young people haven’t been able to access in the past. The Learning Exchange is just the latest ripple in the #YBWave that continues to impact lives across Philadelphia.

Thank you again for your continued support of YouthBuild Philly. We very much appreciate your commitment to the #YBWave and dedication to personal, professional and community growth through our young people.

In Solidarity,

Scott Emerick

Executive Director

YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School


YouthBuild Class of 2019: Annual Cookout

September 28, 2018– The Annual Cookout has become something like a tradition for the YouthBuild Philly community. Every incoming class is celebrated and welcomed into the YouthBuild Philly family with a cookout hosted by YouthBuild staff. This year, the Class of 2019 came out to have a good time and enjoy the company of their friends, family, staff and peers.

Activities of the day included:




Dancing and music DJ’d by Ms. Zuri:



Staff vs. Student Basketball Game (students won this time):



Photobooth fun:





Flag football:




Sidewalk fun:

And most importantly, FOOD cheffed up and served by YouthBuild Philly’s own staff!:




No one does a cookout like YouthBuild Philly! Class of 2019, welcome to the YouthBuild family.



Special Visitors in October

During the month of October YouthBuild Philly had some special guests who paid us a visit to get more acquainted with programming and to witness YouthBuild in action firsthand.

“Pru-Week” with Prudential

October 16, 2018– Every year Prudential, a friend of the YouthBuild movement, hosts an annual event called “Pru-Week” to celebrate their employees and spread awareness about one of the groups the foundation works with. This year they chose YouthBuild.  

Staff from the Prudential local office in Fort Washington mixed, mingled and worked with Advanced Construction students at their worksite in the Logan area of Philadelphia. Over the last few years in partnership with Provision of Grace World Mission Church, Advanced Construction students have been diligently working to build a Community Development Center (CDC) that will serve and provide resources to the residents of Logan. In honor of “Pru-Week” or Prudential Cares Week, Prudential employees lent students a helping hand at the worksite for the day.


The Prudential team bonded with students through various worksite activities such as:

Morning Huddle: 


On-site work: 





Lunchtime Huddle:






A Closing Huddle where everyone shared a recap of their experience for the day: 


We had a great time with our friends at Prudential and hope that they will visit us again soon!


Congressional Visit

October 19, 2018– Staffers for key members of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittee visited YouthBuild Philly to meet with staff to learn about program elements and see students in action at their respective worksites. “The visit to a YouthBuild  DOL (Department of Labor) site was a huge deal (years in the making) and will make a huge difference for the entire YouthBuild movement.”- Ilana Levinson, Senior Director, Advocacy and Public Policy, YouthBuild USA.



Conversations Over Coffee

October 16, 2018– Every year, Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP) hosts State of Young Philly, an annual event series that brings together Philly’s young professionals, elected officials, organizational leaders, and millennials to highlight leadership citywide. YouthBuild Philly joined YIP’s week-long celebration of civic engagement as hosts of Conversation Over Coffee, a student-led panel where YouthBuild Philly students discussed topics relevant to their personal lives and the community. During the event, coffee is served by BAS students in our student-operated cafe.


Young Friends of YouthBuild Philly Board members moderated student panels discussions on student-selected topics: Teen & Young Adult Parenting and Technology & Community Building. Students shared their personal experiences as young parents and young people living in a technology-driven society. The discussion allowed for students to connect with guests and each other to find possible solutions to issues that affect young adults throughout the city.

Conversations Over Coffee continues to be a YouthBuild Philly favorite event because it creates a platform for students to rise as leaders and share their voice with those outside of the YouthBuild community.


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We look forward to next year!

Rasheedah Collins: Her Road Less Traveled to YouthBuild

Get to know Rasheedah Collins.

This month we highlighted our new Director of Vocational Training, Rasheedah Collins! Read on to learn more about her ‘road less traveled’ to YouthBuild Philly, her transition into YB culture and what she likes to do outside of YouthBuild.

“My journey to YouthBuild was nothing short of crooked. There was no straight pathway,” says Rasheedah Collins, YouthBuild Philly’s new Director of Vocational Training as of August 2018. During her time as a Business Major at Lincoln University, Rasheedah was convinced that she wanted to pursue a career in financial services with aspirations of eventually working on Wall Street. While at Lincoln, Rasheedah joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. to gain leadership experience, and after graduating in 1998, her first job out of college was with the Police and Fire Credit Union managing commercial mortgages. Around two years into her first career foray,  Rasheedah felt a need for change. “‘There has to be something more that I can do here. I thought as I looked around my desk and saw stacks and stacks of loans, and I was like ‘I need some more human interaction’,” Rasheedah explains.

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She went and pursued just that when she decided to shift her career as a Human Resource Assistant. “Things took off from there,” says Rasheedah. She spent time in a few different industries such as financial services, information technology and higher education. Rasheedah’s career underwent another shift when she began a career in Career and Technology Education with The School District of Philadelphia. After seven years with the Philadelphia School District Rasheedah made her way back to HR and Talent Acquisition. From there she ultimately found her way to YouthBuild Philly, heading up the school’s Vocational and Career Training program.

It didn’t take much for Rasheedah to be sold on YouthBuild. “I know it was the opportunity for me to really be able to explore what it is that we do at YouthBuild via workforce development and training professionals for career paths – including some that are not always seen as viable career paths. I’ve worked with everyone from middle school students all the way to students on the graduate level, and sometimes people like to look at workforce development as an alternative. Vocation for many years has been looked at as where people go when they can’t succeed in college,” Rasheedah says. She wants to set out to change that. “It has been my mission since entering the industry to bring light that this is something that people can do and become educated in the field and go on to earn a better than decent salary to support their families,” explains Rasheedah.

When Rasheedah worked at the Philadelphia School District she recalls students earning awesome opportunities within the skilled labor industry. “I worked with students who were studying to be welders and graduated from high school. All eight students got full time positions making $50,000 right out of high school, and they were being paid to go onto college. For a young person in Philadelphia to walk out of high school with a guaranteed position and college education, I think that’s better than decent.” she says. Rasheedah’s belief in the vocation industry is a driving force behind everything she does. “I’m always passionate about what young people can do in workforce development and often think about what we can do better to bring about education, opportunities and exposure to vocation. My goal is to shine light where I can on vocational workforce development because I believe that it’s absolutely necessary and something that can help families throughout our neighborhoods regardless of where you live,” explains Rasheedah.

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Since starting at YouthBuild Philly, Rasheedah has set some concrete goals for herself. “First and foremost, I want to really learn YouthBuild. YouthBuild is very unique in that we’re not your traditional school. I’m still unpacking what that looks like and making the adjustment to the on the job training that we do. Once I get my ‘sea legs’ so to speak I look forward to exploring some really good opportunities for our students,” Rasheedah says.

Rasheedah has been ‘on the go’ since her first day in the Summer during student Mental Toughness Training. “My first day, I came in and threw my bag down and said ‘okay, tell me where I’m going. It’s important to keep that kind of energy going because no day at YouthBuild is the same,” says Rasheedah. She describes teamwork as one of YouthBuild Philly’s most valuable attributes. “Sometimes when you think about an organization of any size, you typically stop with access at a particular level. I truly appreciate the leadership and accessibility, starting at the top with Scott (Emerick, YouthBuild Philly’s Executive Director). I feel the same with colleagues and staff in the building. I don’t feel like I’m on my own. At YouthBuild, it is believed that when one person is successful. We all are successful,” says Rasheedah. Part of the culture at YouthBuild Philly is to celebrate each other’s accomplishments with shout outs and Rasheedah has had no problems adapting to this norm. “Shout out to YouthBuild staff, especially Scott for his exemplary leadership. Along with Stephanie Waller (Training & Placement Coordinator), Ameen (Akbar, Director of Student Life), Zuri (Stone, Assistant Director of Student Life), Robin (Walker, Learning Exchange Director), Michael Imperato (Director of Career Development) and Adesanya (Karade, Chief Financial & Operating Officer) who have all been extremely supportive during my transition into YouthBuild. Most importantly, the students who keep me challenged and on my toes everyday,” Rasheedah says.

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Rasheedah’s favorite part of YouthBuild has been the students. “I love the students. I really appreciate that they challenge me in a good way, because I know that vocation is a very unique space. It’s important to me that I listen to what they are saying about their experiences in the classroom and on the worksite, because that helps to inform how good I am in this space and whether or not we can go from good to great. I truly appreciate their honesty and candor around their experience and how I can help them.” she explains.

Outside of YouthBuild, it would be no surprise to find this born and raised Philly native enjoying all that Philly has to offer, especially during the Summer. “I love summertime in Philly. The food markets, outdoor festivals, NeoSoul and The Roots Picnic. I love all of the Philly ‘feel good’ music and activities,” says Rasheedah. When she’s not enjoying summertime in Philly, you can find at her favorite vacation spot in Martha’s Vineyard or her spending quality time with her family. A major highlight of her family time is during the holidays when she gathers her family at her house for a feast personally made by her. “For Christmas brunch I will be making a french toast bake casserole, shrimp and grits, seafood quiche, chicken and waffles, and silver dollar pancakes,” says Rasheedah. When asked if she’s a secret chef she modestly says, “Shhh, I love to cook, I just have to be in the mood.”  

Rasheedah’s wealth of experience, dedication to education and contributions to YouthBuild culture make her a valuable asset to YouthBuild Philly. The YouthBuild team is grateful for Rasheedah’s ‘road less traveled’ that ultimately brought her to YB.

Welcome Rasheedah!

YouthBuild Alumni Making Waves

“We believe in the ripple effect– when students transform their lives, they can transform the community around them.” Read on to learn about two of our alumni who have changed their own lives and the lives of those around them, starting with a ripple caused by reclaiming their education. Since graduating from YouthBuild Philly, Malik (Class of 2016) and Zurrell (Class of 2009) are continuing to ride the #YBWave by positively impacting their families and community.


Copy of Malik Option 2

Before coming to YouthBuild, Malik’s (Class of 2016) high school experience revolved around confusion, anger, and low self-esteem. Coping with a rare autoimmune disease known as alopecia had impacted Malik’s mental health as well. “I always felt like people were looking at me for the wrong reasons.” One day this anger boiled over into a fight, and next thing he knew, Malik was facing legal trouble – resulting in a three-month incarceration.

After leaving jail, Malik attempted to re-enroll in another school, but they didn’t meet his needs as a place to redirect his energy and talents in a more productive way. Once he found out about YouthBuild – and came to interview and get to know staff – Malik knew that this was his opportunity to blossom as a leader. “YouthBuild was like a joy,” he says as he reflects on the teachers and staff members that helped bring out his best qualities.

As an Advanced Construction student, his instructor’s “tough love” paved the way for him to succeed. “Mr. Ron held us to a standard of ‘get it done or leave’” – which instilled accountability, self-respect, and a sense of pride – building on “the small things” he learned from everyday successes. Those “small things” led him to many advanced certifications (CPR training, OSHA 30) that he was able to add to his resume to enhance his candidacy.

After starting at CCP immediately after graduation, Malik quickly refocused his energy to PowerCorps PHL, where he would eventually serve in three different roles – Member, Fellow, and Assistant Crew Leader. This experience prepared him for his current career path with Water Logs, an industry leader in the field of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). Currently a Foreman and Site Inspector, Malik plans to take his skills in GSI to open a new business with his own crew within a few years, and eventually give college another go, to major in Business at Temple University and open his own construction business.


Zurrell Option 1

Until reaching high school, Zurrell (Class of 2009) excelled in class and was regularly on the honor roll. He loved school and had dreams of going to college and starting his own business. However, when Zurrell got to high school he lost that focus as he prioritized socializing and “goofing off” with friends. “High school was definitely a difficult time. I started looking more at the social scene and wasn’t worried about the educational aspect.” As a result of his lack of focus, Zurrell had to make up classes in summer school, and was even held back a grade. After seeing his friends graduate on time while he was still in school, he chose to leave school and enter the workforce once he turned 18.

With no high school diploma, Zurrell’s options for work were limited. While working at Toys ‘R’ Us earning minimum wage, he realized that a diploma would open up new opportunities for him. “I needed to do something,” he recalls thinking. “I’m not going to accomplish my dreams on $7.25 or $7.50 an hour.” He’d heard about YouthBuild from one of his neighbors who attended the school, and after being reminded by a recruitment poster, he decided to come to apply to YouthBuild so that he could see it for himself.

YouthBuild reignited Zurrell’s passion and love of education. A self-starter for his whole life, he was used to relying on intrinsic motivation to lead him to success. His mother supported his independence – trusting his judgment and never pushing him in any particular direction – and fully supported him enrolling at YouthBuild. In fact, Zurrell’s maturity and leadership shone from the very first day of Mental Toughness Training – he remembers encouraging his older sister to come with him every day, and they earned their diplomas together. Zurrell went back to his honor roll days, and ended up earning the honor of class valedictorian.

Even before he graduated from YouthBuild, Zurrell enrolled in a bridge program at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, and eventually became the only alumnus from his cohort to earn an Associate’s Degree at Stevens. From there, he considered numerous four-year college options before enrolling at Temple. “Getting into Temple was such a huge accomplishment – for so many young people in Philly, we see Temple but we don’t see it as an option.” With thoughts of working either in sports or with youth, Zurrell took a career assessment test which identified sports and recreation as a career path for him – fortunately, Temple offered this as a major, and Zurrell graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in sports and recreation management.

Zurrell immediately began moving forward in his career while maintaining his commitment to community. He took a role as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Police Athletic League, and when his year of service ended, he began working at a local YMCA as a Sports Supervisor – eventually becoming Camp Assistant Director, and then Program Director. He also stayed connected to YouthBuild, both nationally as a member of YouthBuild USA’s VOICES (Views On Improving Credentials and Education Success) advisory council, and locally as a member of the Young Friends of YouthBuild Philly.

When an opportunity in YouthBuild’s postsecondary department opened earlier this year, Zurrell was encouraged to apply. After taking a temporary position, his contract was extended, and he was promoted to a full-time staff member, now working with YouthBuild alumni as a Career Coordinator. “Everything I did in the past came back full circle in the best way,” Zurrell reflects as he considers his path back to YouthBuild.


Please consider making a gift today to help keep the #YBWave rolling. Click the image below to visit our fundraising page – any amount you’re able to give makes a ripple to keep our wave rolling! Thanks very much for your consideration and support.


The Power of Second Chances: Alidia Hall

Alidia Hall was excited and hopeful for a chance reclaim her education. Alidia’s interest in YouthBuild Philly was sparked instantly when she learned about YouthBuild from her older sister. After getting pregnant with her first daughter and having to take care of her ill grandmother, Alidia made the hard decision to discontinue her education at her previous high school. For Alidia, YouthBuild signified a second chance in more ways than one. Once she turned 18 years old, she considered herself ready to take her next steps towards her education.

In Fall 2017, Alidia came to YouthBuild excited, happy and nervous for the journey ahead. At the time she was six months pregnant with her second child, but determined to push through and complete the six days of Mental Toughness Training. On the final day of Mental Toughness, the Class of 2018 made a powerful declaration of reclaiming their education as they marched down Broad Street with signs telling everyone in Philadelphia about their bold milestone. Even though Alidia was tired from the march as an expectant mother, she was beaming with pride and a sense of accomplishment. She completed the first step to changing her life for the better.

In Fall 2017, Alidia started the school year off strong. However, once she gave birth to her daughter that November the journey became a bit more difficult. She went on maternity leave and fell significantly behind in a lot of her classes with the added responsibilities of being a new parent. It became impossible for Alidia to finish the school year with all of the missed classes and assignments. “Once I realized that I couldn’t finish the year I was hurt because I really wanted to finish and move on,” Alidia says.

Despite the feelings of disappointment, Alidia wasn’t going to give up. “I wanted a fresh start,” she said – and was ambitious and determined to reapply for YouthBuild’s Class of 2019. “This is something that I needed to accomplish; I’m looking forward to walking across that (graduation) stage.” This feeling was reinforced when she watched the Class of 2018 (Alidia’s initial class) walk across the stage during her second Mental Toughness Training. “It could have been me,” she remembers thinking – but was inspired to seize this second opportunity to be the first of her 8 siblings to earn a diploma.

2018-2019: Alidia during the Acceptance March down Broad Street

Alidia started the 2018-2019 school year with a fresh vision for her career and future goals. During her first year at YouthBuild Philly, Alidia enrolled in the Child Development Associate (CDA) program to learn about the best practices of childcare. As a new mother, she applied what she learned to her own parenting. “I learned about different daycares, how to discipline and teach my child using words, and I was able to share parenting information with my daughter’s father,” Alidia explains. This year, Alidia decided on a different career path and enrolled in the Business Administration Scholar (BAS) program. With a passion for computers, Alidia now feels like she can pursue her passion and dream of earning a degree in Computer Engineering at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.

On the BAS track, Alidia has blossomed as a student and as a person. “I am a very shy and quiet person by nature. As a BAS student I’m becoming more outspoken. My instructor Ms. Melissa is helping me to overcome that obstacle,” Alidia says. Her favorite memory as a BAS student thus far was presenting a group project during orientation where she had to pitch and explain a product to her class. Her group worked together to pitch a S’more toaster and persuade their peers to buy it. Her group won.

Aside from the academics, one of the aspects that Alidia truly appreciates about her YouthBuild experience is the sense of family. “When I was on maternity leave Ms. Doris, my mentor, reached out to Old Navy and nominated me and my family for clothing donations,” Alidia says. When she came back from maternity leave in December, she was surprised with three boxes filled with clothing, toys and books for her and her daughters. “Christmas was good. I am not the type of person to ask for help unless it is a last resort. It meant a lot that YouthBuild helped me without me asking for support. It’s really a family,” Alidia explains.

“I am very glad that I reapplied. So far, so good,” says Alidia. Currently, she has been doing very well and has been feeling motivated more than ever. “I am more focused. This year feels different,” says Alidia. She is right. As a member of the Class of 2019, she is dedicated to “showing up and showing out”, which means coming to do the work and bringing her best. “When I show up and show out, I am an engaged participant in my classes. This year feels like a refresher. I’ve used my second year to my advantage and I can show my classmates how things work around YouthBuild,” Alidia explains.  

Sometimes, second time’s a charm.

Alidia’s daughters: Leyonna (2 years old) & Laniyah (10 Months old)