This 30-year old program YouthBuild began when East Harlem youth were asked a question: what would you want to do if you had adult support? The answer: take back abandoned buildings from drug dealers, rebuild them, and give them to homeless families.
I came across this event on the Washington D.C. mall by accident today and was fascinated, humbled, and very inspired ::
Over 100 students and graduates from YouthBuild USA programs around the country showed off green building techniques on the Mall and, in a tent next to the building going up, took seminars about green building-related practices (event program (pdf)).
FROM YOUTH BUILD WEB SITE::
In YouthBuild programs nationwide, low-income youth ages 16-24 work toward their GEDs or high school diplomas while learning job skills by building affordable housing for homeless and poor people. About 90 percent of YouthBuild students have quit high school, and 40 percent have been through the court system. Emphasizing leadership development and community service, YouthBuild creates a positive peer group to compete with the lure of the streets while developing new young leaders who have transcended poverty in America’s poorest communities. In 30 years, 84,000 students have built 18,000 units of affordable housing and have transformed their lives and communities.