Students Attend US2020 Announcement

_MG_6915_webIn late May, YouthBuild Philly students attended a press event at the Franklin Institute, where Mayor Nutter
announced that Philadelphia was one of seven U.S. cities to with the US2020 City Competition.  With funding from this competition, the Philadelphia US2020 Coalition will develop innovative models for increasing the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals mentoring youth, particularly female, low-income and minority youth in Philadelphia.

YouthBuild Philly’s participation in the official announcement emerged from the school’s ongoing “Building Our Future Together” partnership with Saint-Gobain Corporation, a building materials manufacturer headquartered in King of Prussia and a partner in the Philadelphia US2020 Coalition.

_MG_6919webSaint-Gobain employees have mentored and volunteered alongside YouthBuild students on several occasions.  Just in the past year, Saint-Gobain (and subsidiary CertainTeed) employees have led a design charrette to involve students in the planning process of LEED-targeted renovations on Wingohocking Street, helped with the physical deconstruction of the abandoned Wingohocking properties, and mentored Green Construction and Advanced Construction students at a lunch-and-learn designed to help students take full advantage of the International GreenBuild Conference held in Philadelphia in November.
Carmen Williams ’14, an Advanced Construction YouthBuild Philly student who attended the design charrette and GreenBuild Conference, delivered remarks at the US2020 announcement and provided a student’s perspective on the benefits of mentoring programs:

_MG_6909_webWhat I have learned in the last year is that when you invest in young people – when you support, mentor and guide them – you can change the trajectory of their life.  When young people have their eyes opened to experiences and opportunities they never thought were possible – they can dream bigger and their reality can be so much more.  That’s why I am so excited about the life changing potential that this funding will have on young people in Philadelphia, whose dreams and imaginations can be opened up to new possibilities. 

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Following the event, Carmen spoke to CBS 3 News and the Philadelphia Tribune, and described further the important role that mentors have played in her getting her life back on track after dropping out. The salutatorian of YouthBuild Philly’s Class of 2014, Carmen is now enrolled in English 101 at the Community College of Philadelphia and a valued employee at a Starbucks store in Center City Philadelphia.

YouthBuildStudent Honored for National Service in Citywide Ceremony

66820_10151535129269916_330622103_nEarlier this year, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced to his colleagues at the U.S. Conference of Mayors that April 9, 2013 would mark the first-ever Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service in cities across the country. This celebration – led by Mayor Nutter as well as the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) – was envisioned as a way for mayors to highlight the impact of national service being done by citizens, AmeriCorps members, and SeniorCorps members in their community. (Click here to watch Mayor Nutter discuss the Day of Recognition on MSNBC’s Morning Joe – jump to 00:59 for the interview).

YouthBuild Philly provided the location for the Mayor’s celebration in Philadelphia, organized by the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service. The highlight of the ceremony featured the announcement of Mayor’s Awards for Distinguished Service, recognizing AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps members and alumni in Philadelphia for their commitment to serving their community.

We were excited to nominate YouthBuild student and AmeriCorps member Dominique Brown. Community Projects Coordinator (and full-time AmeriCorps member) Zuri Stone wrote Dominique’s nomination letter, noting that

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Zuri and Dominique

Dominique’s long term goal is to go to college and become a social worker. Her life experiences and service involvement have transformed her into a caring person, with a passion now to make sure no child goes through what she has gone through and that no struggling individual is left to fend for themselves…

…The thing about Dominique that further distinguishes her from others that are doing service often is her inquisitiveness. There is a curiosity in her mind to not only help others, but to understand the deeper meaning behind the issues themselves. She never accepts her service as a shallow one-time event, rather she inquires on the history of those she works with as well as the root of the issues they are facing. After attending the AIDS Walk with YouthBuild, she later suggested that we support more walks and eventually she help us coordinate our participation in the Alzheimer’s Walk.

There is no doubt in my mind that Dominique is the most deserving candidate for this award. She is taking her life experiences and transforming them into a positive movement to help her community. It has been an honor to know Dominique as a student and I cannot wait to see her growth into a college campus activist and furthermore into a personal activist for each and every one of her clients as a social worker.

Dominique was selected as an outstanding nominee by the award committee, and had the opportunity to meet high-profile champions of national service – U.S. Senator Harris Wofford, CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer (who, in her remarks, called Philadelphia the “City of National Service Love.” We hope the nickname sticks!), Deputy Mayor and Managing Director Richard Negrin, and, of course, Mayor Nutter.

548916_10151535129739916_525785131_nAt the end of the ceremony, Mayor Nutter announced the final award-winners, and Dominique received the Mayor’s Award for Distinguished National Service!

We’d like to congratulate Dominique on her well-deserved award, as well as the other winners and outstanding nominees. We thank Mayor Nutter for his commitment to service and leadership in instituting the Mayors Day of Recognition, and thank the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service for organizing this event! Service is at the core of YouthBuild’s program and values, and we were honored to help host a ceremony recognizing service and its best exemplars at our school!

Check out our Facebook photo album for more photos from this exciting day!

Mayor Nutter Shout-out to Alumni Zurrell Toney

On Thursday, March 4, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter delivered his annual Budget Address, “Fighting for Philadelphia: A Safer, Smarter and More Sustainable Future” before City Council, and he gave special recognition to our 2009 valedictorian, Zurrell Toney:

Across the city, thousands of Philadelphians are acting in partnership with their government, giving back to communities, volunteering in town watch, mentoring a child, spending time at hospitals, recreation centers and much more.

Each one is living the ideal of Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection … Philadelphia, The City of Service.

There’s Zurrell Toney, a high school dropout who became an AmeriCorps volunteer logging more than 900 hours rebuilding homes for low-income families.

I met him at his graduation from YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School where he was the valedictorian. He’s now in college with dreams of owning a business. Please recognize Zurrell.”  (Full text)

Zurrell is currently earning high marks at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, and recently stepped into a leadership role in his business class for a semester long group project.  Congratulations Zurrell!

A long time supporter of YouthBuild Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter keynoted our 2009 commencement ceremony, and we are proud to call him a member of the YouthBuild family!

Watch the video of the Mayor’s Budget Address at cbs3.com (shout-out at 13:20)

YouthBuild Receives Harris Wofford Award for Active Citizenship

We are proud to announce that YouthBuild Philadelphia was awarded the Eleventh Annual Harris Wofford Award for Active Citizenship at the Martin Luther King Day of Service press conference on the morning of Jan. 7, 2009.

Mayor Michael Nutter presented the Award to Executive Director Simran Sidhu, along with 2009 class president D’Shaunta Hayward and Program Director Brian Leffler.

The award was given “for years of participation in the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, and for educating young people to become successful and active citizens.”

The award was presented on stage in front of press representatives, community leaders, and hundreds of other attendees. We are proud to be recognized for our commitment to, and participation in community service over the years.