Welcome to YouthBuild, Class of 2010!

After two weeks of Mental Toughness Training, the final stage in our application process, 219 students were formally accepted into YouthBuild in a special ceremony at the Doubletree Hotel in Center City. YouthBuild Executive Director Simran Sidhu and Dean of Students Ameen Akbar welcomed this eager and excited group of students into the YouthBuild family as the Class of 2010.

Students celebrated their acceptance into the program through student led “YouthBuild” chants, many hugs, and some tears. Acknowledging the challenges that lay ahead, many students presented their YouthBuild Artifact – keepsakes such as a photo of a family member or personal artwork – that will help them stay motivated throughout the year. These emotional presenters shared inspirational stories about their children, friends, parents, and grandparents. They also spoke about past mistakes and their motivation to reclaim their education and change the paths on which they were headed.

Mental Toughness is over, but the real work has only started for these young people. The new students officially started classes on September 16, 2009 and will work toward high school diplomas, vocational certifications and 675 hours of community service (via AmeriCorps) throughout the next year.

See photos from the Acceptance Ceremony and the first day of class!

Congratulations Class of 2009!

In a commencement ceremony held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 102 YouthBuild Philadelphia students received high school diplomas on August 28. Over 1200 family members and friends of graduates joined YouthBuild  staff and partners to celebrate the special occasion with the Class of 2Class of 2009 Graduates009.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter delivered the inspirational keynote address. He recalled his memory of welcoming this group of students into YouthBuild just one year ago and encouraged the next class of YouthBuild students, also attending the ceremony, to learn from the example of these graduates.

The crowd was brought to its feet by 2007 graduate Domonique Williams, who delivered a rousing Alumni Address to close out the program:

There’s a war going on outside… and it’s going into our hearts and taking away our will. But with every war comes its heroes. Heroes who – in just one year – transformed themselves from the hopeless to the hopeful. Heroes who – in just one year – transformed themselves from the counted out to the counted on. Heroes who – in just one year – transformed themselves from high school dropouts into high school graduates. Heroes who – when many gave up on them – refused to give up on themselves.

More than 50 of the graduates plan to attend college this fall, many at Community College of Philadelphia, and others will continue their education at technical schools or start full-time careers in fields such as nursing care and commercial truck driving.

See more photos from the commencement ceremony!

Students Celebrate Home and Life Makeover

Over 200 of our students and staff gathered today with partners and local community members to celebrate the completion of a rehabilitated home in North Philadelphia.  We held the ribbon cutting ceremony with Resources for Human Development (RHD), our community development corporation partner on the rehabilitation of the home.Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Executive Director Simran Sidhu led the dedication ceremony, which included speeches from Solomon Jones, Community Outreach Director for Congressman Chaka Fattah, and RHD’s Affordable Housing Program Property Coordinator Sarah Duncan. Janita Oliver and Robin Knight, students from the construction training program, spoke about their experience rebuilding the home.

Class of 2009 technology student Felicia Wilder presented a refurbished computer to the new residents. Students from our health care program demonstrated their nurse aide skills and presented the new homeowners with a welcome basket during the ceremony. Smith & Solomon partnered with students in our new Commercial Driver’s License training program to showcase a “Big Rig” truck for attendees.

ABC6 Action News‘ Denise James covered the event

See more photos of the event.

Congratuations Nurse Aides!

Sixteen students in our Health Care Training program earned their state nurse aide certifications from 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund at a special ceremony held today.  Philadelphia First Lady Lisa Nutter highlighted the event at the Kimmel Center.

The students passed a state certification exam, and are now qualified to work in long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania.  The CNA certification is also a valuable step toward other careers in the health care industry.

Click photo to play our Flickr slideshow:2009 Nurse Aide Ceremony