YouthBuild Little Rock

In March of 2011 the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it would provide $1.1 million to a community collaboration of 17 Little Rock organizations to build and operate a YouthBuild program. The Little Rock Workforce Investment Board is the lead agency of the grant, joined by its primary partners, the Arkansas Construction Education Foundation, Arbor Education & Training, New Futures for Youth, The Little Rock School District – Adult Education Program, the City of Little Rock, Habitat for Humanity of Pulaski County, Reed Realty Advisors, Pulaski Technical College and UALR.

The Little Rock YouthBuild will be a 3-year grant modeled after other successful YouthBuild programs. The program will ensure that 30 youth between the ages of 18-24 years will be enrolled in each of 2 years, with a 3rd year for evaluation, tracking and follow up of the 60 total participants. At least 75% of the youth will be high school dropouts, with the other 25% being low-income, basic skills deficient, or face other significant stated barriers. The youth will spend 50% of their time (20 hours per week) pursuing a G.E.D. and building their academic skills to challenge other certificates, 40% of their time (16 hours) acquiring and applying construction skills in construction labs and at construction worksites, and 10% of their time (4 hours) doing community service projects, leadership and life skills workshops, soft skills workshops, or making connections to employment or continued education along their career pathway. The education and training programs will be delivered through 3 full-time and 2 part-time staff with superior credentials and coming from 4 partner organizations. In addition to the LRWIB, oversight and accountability will be achieved through an Advisory Council represented by each of the partnering organizations and representatives from the student body.

YouthBuild program is a comprehensive youth and community development program which simultaneously addresses several core issues facing low-income communities: education, employment and leadership development. The youth are compensated for the time spent they spend in class or lab, while on construction sites, and when engaged in leadership and community service activities, thus providing an alternative education and employment pathway that enables participants to obtain a high school diploma or GED, advance toward post-secondary education or career-oriented employment, and take responsibility for their families and communities.

The first YouthBuild program was started in East Harlem, NY in 1978 at a small, community-based, nonprofit organization.  The first YouthBuild program was so successful, and the demand to replicate it so strong, that in 1984 an organized coalition in New York City succeeded in obtaining city tax levy funds to replicate it in five locations in the city. There was such a demand nationally that in 1988 a nonprofit organization was formed called YouthBuild USA. 

For more information contact W. J. Monagle, Project Director, at 501-683-3843 or w.j.monagle@arkansas.gov.