YouthBuild Philly Launches Stomping Grounds Social Justice Café

After more than a year of planning, YouthBuild Philly is excited to announce the official grand opening of Stomping Grounds Café (SGC), YouthBuild’s first community-facing and student-led social justice coffee shop. The Café officially opened its doors to the public on Monday, Nov. 1 at 8 a.m. after holding an initial ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, October 29.

The event was a complete success and was filled with fun, food and music! Special shout out to YB Philly’s very own Scott Emerick, YouthBuild Philly Executive Director, Melissa Jackson-Schmidt, YouthBuild Philly Director of Workforce and Kim Paulus, Stomping Grounds Café General Manager and YouthBuild Philly Customer Service Instructor, who led the ribbon-cutting ceremony and provided some very inspirational words of hope and appreciation.

Thank you to everyone who attended the ceremony – it was a pleasure to chat one-on-one with our new neighbors and reconnect with long-time friends of YB Philly. Guests who attended the ceremony received a free sample of SGC’s world-class banana chai latte and sweet potato pie spiced latte, followed by a student-led walk-through of the Café. The event wrapped up at 5 p.m. with a light networking session and a very impromptu photoshoot with YB staff and students.

For background, Stomping Grounds serves the community and is dedicated to ensuring that all YB Philly students, neighbors and customers, all have a place to feel welcomed and safe.  At SGC, everyone has a seat at the table!

The mission of SGC is built on the foundation of nearly 30 years of young adult training experience and more than five years of running an in-school cafe serving students, staff, and invited guests. Stomping Grounds is more than just a café – it will serve as a flexible space and classroom for YouthBuild students in its Business Administration Scholars (BAS) program.

SGC provides YouthBuild students with an authentic experiential learning opportunity via hands-on, day-to-day operation and management. SGC employment opportunities are exclusive to YBPCS alumni and current students to empower them to become self-sufficient leaders of their community and earn a living sustaining wage.

SGC will specialize in producing Italian espresso-based beverages made from beans ethically sourced, locally roasted, and handled with care by trained professionals.  Teas and other assorted beverages will be offered as well. Students will be responsible for creating and promoting specialty menu items and will work with customers to design custom-crafted beverages to suit any taste.

The Café’s hours of operation will run from 8 am to 1 pm, Monday through Friday and is located in the Powelton Village section of West Philadelphia at 3859 Lancaster Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19104. If you’re ever in the area, please feel free to stop by for a carefully crafted coffee or tea.

YB Philly is committed to improving the lives of young people and Stomping Grounds is where the students can use their newfound skills to make change in their community. To learn more about YouthBuild Philly, please follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @YouthBuildPhl and @stompinggrounds_sjcafe on Instagram.        

-YB Philly

Support YouthBuild #TodayTomorrowandBeyond!

Dear Supporters,

On August 30, 2021, YouthBuild Philly proudly, warmly and safely welcomed an incoming class of new students back into our building for the first time since March 2020. Over the past 20 months our school community has encountered challenges that we never expected. Through it all, our staff, Board of Trustees, students and alumni proved their resilience in the face of a global pandemic and reopened a space that so many young people have considered a second home since 1992. 

Throughout the time our building was closed, we continued to REP our core values – Respect, Excellence and Perseverance – in a virtual environment, while preparing our students for a hopeful return to a new normal and more equitable future. At an outdoor ceremony in late August, 144 new high school graduates received their diplomas at a rainy Dell Music Center. Just eight days later, we welcomed our new Class of 2022 into our school for the start of Mental Toughness Training. Today, these 179 enrollees are working toward their diplomas while also laying the foundation for their futures through YouthBuild’s workforce development and service learning curriculum.

While YouthBuild prides itself on our ability to prepare young people for specific careers through these vocational tracks and college and career partnerships, we are just as proud to develop young peoples’ confidence, leadership and critical consciousness to improve their communities.  This year, we highlight two of these alumni – Kayla Mann (Class of 2017) and Douglas Pickett (Class of 2015). Both of these outstanding young people overcame barriers to find success at YouthBuild – and applied their leadership skills to branch out into new careers. We hope you enjoy learning about each of these incredible leaders.

As Kayla and Douglas’ stories demonstrate, opportunity and relationships are essential to YouthBuild, and we’re thrilled to be able to see our students again every day as we support them through challenges and celebrate their successes. This commitment to empowering our students – not only academically or professionally, but also personally and as leaders – is what makes our YouthBuild community unique and special. Hearing and seeing alumni speak confidently about their experiences, and how these experiences have helped to build that confidence, is immensely rewarding to us as staff, and we hope that it resonates with you, our supporters, as well.

Please join us this year in making a gift to YouthBuild Philly as we continue to educate, train and build confidence in young people. Your gift to YouthBuild in 2021-2022 will make an impact in the following ways:

  • continue to provide safe classrooms, worksites and service opportunities for our Class of 2022 and beyond
  • maintain the health and safety of our community as students and alumni return to our space
  • provide need-based grants for students to address urgent and on-going challenges related to housing, transportation, child care, and health care
  • focus on barrier removal to allow our students to learn, grow and shine as leaders
  • enhance our trauma-based care to support of students experiencing community violence
  • nurture students’ passions through clubs and elective courses related to their out-of-school interests
  • award scholarships for graduates choosing to attend college or trade school, helping to remove financial barriers to higher education
  • help students prepare for job interviews and new career opportunities through mock interviews, resume reviews and providing professional attire
  • improve and build staff training to respond to challenges our students face in and out of school

With support from our community and donors, YouthBuild Philly is able to provide a safe, warm and welcoming environment for our students to continue to pursue their passions and grow as leaders. Stories like Kayla’s and Douglas’ show very clearly that our commitment to our core values helps young people succeed in their professional and personal lives, and we appreciate your support of YouthBuild Philly to help create this supportive culture.

We need your support! Donations of any size make a tremendous impact on our program, and we appreciate your  financial contribution toward our program’s success. Please visit our secure donation site to make a gift today! If you have any questions about your donation or how it will be used, please contact our Individual Giving Manager Theo Molloy at

Thank you very much for your continued support of YouthBuild Philly. We wish you and your family good health, and hope to see you at a YouthBuild event when it is safe to do so.

In solidarity,

Scott Emerick

Executive Director

PS: If you’re local to West Philadelphia, we encourage you to visit YouthBuild’s new social justice cafe, Stomping Grounds, at 39th and Lancaster!

Class of 2022 Acceptance March

On Tuesday, October 19, students of the Class of 2022 took to the streets of Philadelphia to reclaim their education in YB Philly’s Annual Acceptance March!  

After being forced to cancel and reschedule the march from its original date in September, due to inclement weather and city flooding, we were excited to finally celebrate our applicants in true YouthBuild fashion. 

At the end of the march, we held an awards ceremony to commemorate the end of Session 1 and recognize the accomplishments of our student superstars! Congratulations to everyone who received an award – your hard work did not go unnoticed!

The Acceptance March and ceremony served as the final step in the YouthBuild application process before officially becoming students.