YouthBuild recruiting now for its unique program
by Courtney Sackey on Jul 16 2012
YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School offers a unique route to a diploma. Neither a typical high school nor a GED course, the school is an option for young adults, ages 18-20, who have dropped out of high school.
It is now recruiting for its program that starts in September, and the registration deadline is Aug. 7 – less than a month away.
“It’s disappointing when I meet someone who is 21 or 22 – or older, even – and I’ve told them about YouthBuild’s program and they say they wish they’d known about this opportunity earlier,” said Sarah Peterson, YouthBuild’s community and development associate.
Peterson explained that to be eligible, a student needs to be a resident of Philadelphia and between the ages of 18 and 20 as of Aug. 30.
“It’s important for everyone to know about our program and our Aug. 7 deadline, so that nobody … misses their window of opportunity,” she said.
According to the school's website, it offers small class sizes and combines academics, community service, counseling, vocational and leadership training to help students prepare for post-secondary education and career goals. YouthBuild also provides mentorship to its students.
YouthBuild Philadelphia is an affiliate and flagship of YouthBuild USA, a national nonprofit organization founded by Dorothy Stoneman in East Harlem. It is one of 226 YouthBuild programs in the country, all dedicated to helping low-income youths become educated and productive adults.
The school was founded in 1991 by former executive director Taylor Frome, along with other community representatives, to address the high dropout rate in the city’s public schools and the lack of job-training opportunities for young people without diplomas. In the fall of 1992, the program’s first class was a group of 16 students who began their training in a church. Today the program has expanded to more than 200 students.
YouthBuild fosters a strong and supportive student culture through extracurricular leadership opportunities and social activities based on student interest. Among other opportunities, there is a Youth Congress, consisting of 10 elected students who serve as a governing body and represent their classmates at local and national events. There are frequent awards ceremonies to honor students for various types of achievements, and there are non-academic outings, such as a school picnic and Thanksgiving dinner.
“My hope is for every out-of-school youth in Philadelphia to at least know about YouthBuild, so that they don’t miss out on what could be a great fit for them,” Peterson said. “Everyone who is eligible should apply now, so that they can make a big change in their lives with the right program. Why wait?”
A student who applies today could be, for example, taking summer classes at Community College of Philadelphia through the Transitions program a year from now, she said.
In this short film, directed and produced by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern and found on the school’s Facebook page, three YouthBuild graduates share their ambitions for the future.
YouthBuild’s website lists the many organizations that sponsor the school. These include AmeriCorps National and AmeriCorps State Direct via PennSERVE, the Governor's Office of Citizen Service. Students are considered part-time members of Americorps during their time in the program.