Class of 2020 Cookout Carnival

September 27– YouthBuild Philly created a carnival-themed experience for this year’s Annual Cookout celebrating the Class of 2020. Every year, YouthBuild Philly’s Student Life team hosts a cookout that welcomes the incoming class into the YB family. Staying true to the family vibe, Class of 2020 parents brought their children along to indulge in the day of fun with friends, staff, and peers. This year’s cookout, held in Lemon Hill (Fairmount Park), was filled with action-packed activities seasoned with a carnival feel. 

Highlights of the day included:

Grilled goodness (Hotdogs and burgers (veggie burgers included) ) cooked by YouthBuild Philly staff:

Popcorn Stand:

Bubble Soccer:

Great Music:

Face Painting:

Staff vs. Student Basketball:

Students won!

Double Dutch:

Potato Sack Race:


The Annual Cookout was a family affair in every sense of the word. It always serves as a chance for the YouthBuild Philly community to kick the year off and come together to simply enjoy each other’s company. We look forward to creating many more great memories with the Class of 2020 throughout the school year.
See more carnival cookout fun in the slideshow below!


A Wishlist Fulfilled: IBEW Local 614

September 14, 2019— Youthbuild Philly community spaces just got a bit cozier with the help of our friends at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 614! The team at IBEW Local 614 reached out across their network and hosted a furniture drive to fulfill YouthBuild Philly’s “wishlist” of items for communal spaces and provided pieces such as: end tables, dining tables, whiteboard, rug, chalkboard paint and more. 

On the day of the furniture drop off, the IBEW Local 614 team, led by the President & Business Manager as well as Business Agents from across the region, was greeted with open arms by YouthBuild Philly students who were happy to assist with the unloading and placement of furniture. Afterwards, IBEW Local 614 members led a Q&A session with students with potential interest in the utility industry. The conversation paved the way for the developing partnership to expand beyond the furniture drive by advising and supporting students on their career pathways. 

This picture left to right: Keith Coombs (Business Agent – Philly Region), Shawn Brewer (Business Agent – DelChester Region), Larry Anastasi (President / Business Manager), Joe Pino (Business Agent – BucksMont Region)

Thank you to our friends at IBEW Local 614 for contributing to the YouthBuild Philly community in more ways than one. Every piece of donated furniture will be placed within the school to facilitate spaces for community. We look forward to a growing relationship with IBEW Local 614 and to making the YouthBuild Philly space feel more like HOME. 

IBEW Local 614 with YouthBuild Philly students and staff

Stay tuned for future furniture placement updates! 

Be sure to follow IBEW Local 614 on Instagram: @ibewlocal614

All photo credits to Kenny Gleaton (@wonderland_of_snaps).

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.


IMG_4085 (1)

We look forward to next year!

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.