The YouthBuild Cluj program is built on the model provided by YouthBuild International, which exists to help disadvantaged youth from all over the world to find their potential and build a better life for themselves and their community. Before telling you the story of our local program, we wanted to share with you some bits and pieces of the international program’s story.
- ‘How would you improve your community if you had the support of the adults?’ is the question with which YouthBuild’s story begins. Dorothy Stoneman, the founder of the program, asked this as she started the first YouthBuild program in East Harlem, New York, in 1978. How did the youth respond? They renovated one of the abandoned housings in the neighbourhood, for disadvantaged and homeless people. The action set the basics of the YouthBuild program, of offering vocational training in construction, education and leadership.
- In 1984, Stoneman organized a coalition of 500 organizations, to convince local authorities to financially support replicationg the program. They won funds for six nonprofit organizations, that would start YouthBuild programs in their own communities.
- In 1990, they founded YouthBuild USA, Inc., to ensure the scaling of the program nationwide, while respecting the quality of the model with which they started. Four years later, the YouthBuild programs started to be funded by federal funds, first by the Housing and Urban Development Department, and since 2006, by the Labor Department.
- The first YouthBuild program adapted internationally was in Johannesburg, South Africa, where a collaboration between Umsobomvu Youth Fund and YouthBuild put the basics of a local program respecting the YouthBuild model in 2001. As it was a successful program, it stands behind the motivation of founding YouthBuild International in 2007, in order to answer to the development and involvement needs of young people all over the world.
- Each YouthBuild program is based on the same model of offering vocational training, education and community involvement opportunities. But each model is different, based on the local context and existent needs (meaning what the young people need, what funding is available, what kind of partnerships are formed).
- In 2014, in the 100 locations of YouthBuild International programs from 15 countries, 6000 participants signed up, who volunteered 700 000 hours for community service, in 300 different projects. These varied from home renovations, to public space rehabilitations or renovations of schools. From the graduates, 3000 found stable workplaces.
- The program offers a transformative experience. It takes young people from where they are and offers them activities which help them become adults, and see themselves and the world with different eyes, bringing a positive change to themselves and their community.
- Construction and renovation work have become an integral part of the program since the beginning, even if today, YouthBuild offers other types of vocational training as well. On the one hand, this is because construction work is a field that will always provide workplaces. On the other hand, because the effort of building something nice with your own hands can change the way you build your self-image.