5: ‘Real world’ work experience – Youth Build Boston

Youth Build Boston (YBB) partners with local colleges, unions, construction companies and planning authorities to provide young people with ‘real life’ work experience and vocational training in the construction sector through career exploration and pre-apprenticeship programmes.111 It targets communities with high crime rates, unemployment, and a high number of young people who lack basic skills. It aims to integrate education and training with work experience, leadership development and community service. The non-profit runs four programmes:

  • Career Exploration: a paid 6- to 9-month programme for individuals interested in starting a career in the building trades. The programme combines academic instruction for a high school equivalency degree with occupational skills instruction, emphasizing hands-on methods and industry-recognized credentialing;
  • Pre-Apprentice: a 12-week intensive programme for youths who have a high school diploma or equivalent, but need further training and credentials for entry-level employment in the building and construction trades;
  • The Designery: an afterschool- or college-readiness programme, run in collaboration with the Boston Architectural School, exposes secondary students to architecture and urban design. It specifically targets design education, using real-world-based projects to educate participants in all aspects of architectural design. Young people follow three different tracks with the third involving time in an architectural firm and 100 per cent graduate from high school;
  • uBuild Service Learning: engages youths as volunteers who lead community rehabilitation projects for local non-profits. uBuild also provides opportunities for corporate employees to volunteer alongside our youth.

Collaboration with other local stakeholders is integral to the funding and delivery of these programmes. Partnership with local colleges provides a pipeline of participants who can benefit from the training and the direct involvement of construction companies and trade unions ensures participants receive relevant training and experience. It also ensures participants have access to job opportunities.

YBB has established greater financial sustainability over time by diversifying its funding sources. Programmes are funded through city and state line-items, foundations and small grants from employers. uBuild also provides additional revenue as new builds and renovations are sold for profit, which is invested back into the programmes.111