|Dear Friend of YouthBuild:
I want to share with you good news on the re-authorization of YouthBuild, recent federal appropriations for YouthBuild in the US Department of Labor, steadily increasing outcomes for funded YouthBuild programs, and bi-partisan validation that bodes well for the future.
Reauthorization: First, as you may already know, the US Congress reauthorized YouthBuild in federal law through a bi-partisan bill called the Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that passed in the summer of 2014. We had to fight for this for three years. Our friends in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, led by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Tom Harkin (D-IO) in the Senate and by
Representatives Hal Rogers (R-KY), and Buck McKeon (R-CA) in the House, successfully advocated for YouthBuild in the face of pressure to eliminate many federal programs. This is a big deal and we let out a deep sigh of relief and shouted with joy when this bill passed.
Recent Appropriations: Building on this, for the current Fiscal Year 2015 the US Congress approved an appropriation to the US Department of Labor for the federal YouthBuild program of $79.7M, up 2.3% from 2014. This also happened with the help of the above named champions and many others. Remember that in 2011 DOL’s YouthBuild program suffered a 37% cut due to the focus of the House on lowering the deficit. This caused the tragic and damaging loss of funding for many local YouthBuild
But by 2013 enough members of the House had changed their minds as a result of visiting local YouthBuild programs and talking with YouthBuild students, hearing their desire to rebuild their lives and seeing the homes they had produced, that the House actually bumped the recommended YouthBuild appropriation up above the Senate’s number and up above President Obama’s budget request for that year. This was still substantially lower than the 2010 level of $127.5M, but at least it was going in the right direction. Going into the current appropriations cycle, we continue to expand this
firsthand knowledge of YouthBuild by inviting Members of Congress and their staff members to visit local programs.
The Funding System: I believe you know, but I will repeat it here just in case you don’t: the federal YouthBuild appropriation does not come to or through YouthBuild USA. It goes to the US Department of Labor (DOL), which runs a competitive process through which any interested local non-profit or public entity can apply directly to DOL for a grant of up to $1.1M to run a full YouthBuild program for 2 years plus 9 months of follow-up. YouthBuild USA plays no role in the selection of
those grantees. DOL aims to select the highest quality programs with the best outcomes in the communities of greatest need. DOL contracts with YouthBuild USA to assist in ensuring the high quality of these grantees. YouthBuild USA must compete for this privilege every few years. YouthBuild USA also independently raises private funds and additional public funds for innovative programmatic enhancements in local programs that DOL assesses and builds into the federal system if they prove successful.
Outcomes: All the outcome measures for YouthBuild programs funded by the US Department of Labor have gone steadily up over the past seven years. In the most recent cycle, 77% of all participants completed the program and 77% of all participants also earned a high school diploma or its equivalent and/or an industry registered certification during their time in YouthBuild. 61% of all participants were placed in jobs and/or college after an average of ten months full-time participation.
Only 9% of those who were court-involved were convicted of a new crime within a year of joining YouthBuild. Knowing that YouthBuild enrollees are all low-income, that 93% had left high school without a diploma, and about one third had been court involved, I’m sure you will agree that these outcomes represent huge success.
Bipartisan Validation: Because of these strong outcomes and consistent positive research results,YouthBuild was featured in the 2014 book: “Moneyball for Government,” edited by Jim Nussle and Peter Orszag, both former directors of the federal Office of Management and Budget. The bipartisan team of authors asks policy makers to base decisions on data and to focus on what works. They highlighted YouthBuild as an example of “moneyball at work,” citing evidence and outcomes that merit further investment and scaling up.
Imagine: If America could reconnect 61% of our unemployed and under-educated low-income young adults to a productive pathway out of poverty we would have a very different nation. This can be done. It depends entirely on the political will. The resources and the knowledge exist. We have the knowledge. The nation has the resources. Employers have the need. The young people have the desire and the talent to make a major contribution if we could persuade our leaders to
invest in them. Three times more young people apply to YouthBuild than can be accepted due to funding constraints and twice as many communities apply to the Department of Labor each year than DOL can fund. We are shutting the door to social mobility on tens of thousands of young men and women who just want a chance to achieve.
FY ‘16 Appropriation: President Obama’s budget for FY’16 proposes another incremental increase to the YouthBuild appropriation, up to $84.5M, a 7% increase. Senator Gillibrand had written to him to request $130M. In the next few critical months, we will be working in Congress to obtain as large an increase as possible.
Thank you for being an ally who will help build political will to reconnect all of America’s low-income youth to education and employment, service and leadership. There is still hope for a better America that will provide opportunity and responsibility for all, love and community for every person born. We will continue to work toward this vision.
CEO and Founder
YouthBuild USA. Inc.
58 Day St., 4th Floor
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 741 – 1224 – Direct
(617) 623-6294 – Fax