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.