Photos: Thaddeus Stevens College 2014 Commencement

Did you know that YouthBuild Philly has not one but two Classes of 2014?  We’re not referring to the early diploma ceremony for Jerome and Aaron last month – and not to our tradition of holding two graduation ceremonies in August and November – but rather to the  many YouthBuild alumni graduating from college this year. With graduation season fully in swing, we congratulate all of the outstanding men and women who have come through YouthBuild and gone on to complete a postsecondary degree.


This weekend, YouthBuild graduates Sean Keel ’11 and Marquis Williams ’11 graduated from Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.  Director of Postsecondary Career Development Michael Imperato and IT & Business Administration Coordinator Melissa Jackson attended the ceremony and shared pictures of the graduates on their special day:

Thaddeus Stevens College Summer Bridge Closing Celebration

A unique feature of YouthBuild we like to advertise to prospective students is that dropouts who apply to YouthBuild could be enrolled in college courses – or even living on a college campus – less than a year after applying.   Students who apply (in July, let’s say), are accepted, and complete their academic requirements on time  could be enrolled in a college course by the next June, if not sooner!  This seeming time warp is created by the multiple summer bridge programs we have built with our wonderful postsecondary partners.

For several summers, eligible students who have completed their academic YouthBuild requirements by the end of Sixth Session have participated in dual-enrollment programs at partner postsecondary institutions over the summer.  Students who “bridge” into partner institutions after receiving their YouthBuild diploma have the advantage of knowing what to expect, and can hit the ground running.  The summer bridge programs – which are free to students – expose students to college life and postsecondary academics while they continue to receive YouthBuild supports.  The programs enable students to start earning college credits as soon as possible, a jump-start that helps them manage the consts of continuing their education.

2013 bridge students with their certificates of completion!

Last week, a cohort of ten students finished their summer bridge program at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, one of our original postsecondary partners.  As in years past, the college hosted a small, heartfelt ceremony to celebrate the bridge students’ perseverance through the program.


Thaddeus Stevens is a small college in Lancaster, PA and about a 90-minute drive from YouthBuild – so our students stayed in the dorms this summer.  They were regularly visited by YouthBuild staff, helped each other with homework, and also received support from YouthBuild alumni already enrolled at Thaddeus Stevens.  Regular readers may remember Ciera Russum from the Greene St. ribbon-cutting – she just finished her first year at Thaddeus Stevens and was out there this summer helping bridge students acclimate to college life and postsecondary academics!

2013 bridge students with Cierra Russum ’12 (right) and Emada Williams ’12 (left)

At the moment, seven YouthBuild students are confirmed to enroll at Thaddeus Stevens College in the fall.  We are waiting to confirm that three more meet all the requirements.  Congratulations to all our Thaddeus Stevens Bridge students on completing the program – a considerable milestone – and many thanks to the administrators and educators at Thaddeus Stevens who have supported and taught our students this summer.  You’ve help our students reach new heights, and we couldn’t do it without you.

Watch out for more posts as we celebrate the completion of several other summer bridge programs this week!

Summer for Success

As we head into the Summer Session, the traditional YouthBuild schedule of alternating academic and vocational instruction has concluded. To help students prepare for the transition into the next phase of their lives, they have an array of exciting opportunities to take advantage of in the coming weeks, including:

  • A residential summer bridge program at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, PA, where they will earn college credits while getting a real sense of college life by living on campus.
  • Earning college credits and gaining a sense of college level work through an elective class and a freshman seminar at the Community College of Philadelphia, which will prepare students for what to expect when they enter as full-time students in the fall.
  • Six-week internships in the student’s field of interest to gain hands-on job experience.
  • A Pre-Apprenticeship construction program which guarantees job placement after successful completion of the 8 week training.
  • Earning credits toward an Automotive Certificate at Lincoln Technical Institute.
  • A six-week Home Health Aide certification class .
  • Additional academic or vocational instruction for students who need more support.

All students will stay connected with the YouthBuild support system while participating in an individualized, meaningful experience that will prepare them for their post-YouthBuild goals.

Partnering for Success

This summer, ten students gained the full college experience through Stepping to Success, a four week residential program at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. We partnered with the technical college in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to better prepare students for full-time college.

The students were exposed to a variety of the college’s vocational offerings, such as carpentry and masonry, as well as computer and life skills through two pre-college courses. Each student constructed a stepping stone in the masonry course to exemplify and commemorate the steps taken toward their future through the program. By living in dorms, eating in dining halls, and taking advantage of recreational facilities, the students experienced all that campus life has to offer.

The innovative partnership program with Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology exemplifies the ways in which we are continually expanding the opportunities available to students for post-secondary and career exploration. We are excited to develop a partnership with an organization that shares our mission of providing the highest quality education and opportunities to young people at varying levels of ability.

We look forward to expanding on this partnership with Thaddeus Stevens, as well as other local technical schools and colleges, to assist our students in learning what it means to succeed not only in post-secondary school but on their own.

**If you are interested in learning more about our post-secondary partnerships, please contact Director of Transition Services, Marty Molloy

Click on a thumbnail to see larger photos: