YouthBuild is a community-based alternative education program for youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are high school dropouts, adjudicated youth, youth aging out of foster care, youth with disabilities, migrant farmworker youth, youth experiencing housing instability, and other disadvantaged youth populations. The YouthBuild program simultaneously addresses several core issues important to low-income communities: affordable housing, leadership development, education, employment opportunities in in-demand industries and apprenticeship pathways.
YouthBuild programs are the connection point to vital services for the youth they serve. Meaningful partnership and collaboration are key aspects of this service delivery model, through the workforce system, as well as the education and human services systems. DOL expects applicants funded through this solicitation to have well-established partnerships in place prior to grant award.
The YouthBuild model balances project-based academic learning and occupational skills training to prepare disadvantaged youth for career placement. The academic component assists youth who are often significantly behind in basic skill development to obtain a high school diploma or state high school equivalency credential. The occupational skills training component prepares opportunity youth to gain placement into career pathways and/or further education or training, and also supports the goal of increasing affordable housing within communities by teaching youth construction skills learned by building or significantly renovating homes for sale or rent to low-income families or transitional housing for homeless families or individuals.
Career Pathways are a key strategy to increase employment opportunities, including through the use of apprenticeships. YouthBuild programs funded by DOL are recognized as pre-apprenticeship programs, thus grantees are expected to develop program models that align with pre-apprenticeship.
YouthBuild programs provide educational and skills training preparation that give participants the requirements needed to enter a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP). RAPs are a proven model of apprenticeship validated by the U.S. Department of Labor or a State Apprenticeship Agency and registered under the National Apprenticeship Act. RAPs include a 3 paid-work component and an educational component. Grantees awarded under this announcement should actively develop partnerships and pathways that lead directly to highquality employment and placements in registered apprenticeship programs.
The Construction Plus model allows YouthBuild grantees to use DOL grant funds for training in additional in-demand industries with the goal of attaining industry-recognized certifications, hands-on work experience in industry settings, and direct entry into apprenticeships or direct hiring into these industries. Since Construction Plus began in 2012, YouthBuild grant programs have provided training in diverse industries and occupations, including healthcare, information technology, hospitality and retail services, and logistics. Construction Plus programs must use the same five pre-apprenticeship elements to develop their Construction Plus pathways.
YouthBuild programs are required partners of American Job Centers, or one-stop centers. All YouthBuild programs must adhere to the requirements of being a one-stop partner. Partnering with American Job Centers provides an opportunity for YouthBuild grantees to develop the necessary partnerships for Construction Plus training. It also supports participant success through job development support, employer connections, basic assessment and referral services, supportive services provision, transition services for post-exit placements, and continuing education and training. It also provides a referral connection between American Job Centers and YouthBuild programs.
WIOA places a strong emphasis on the role of employers in successful workforce development strategies, and requires grantees to report on their effectiveness in serving employers. Grantees awarded under this announcement are expected to actively develop new employer relationships and strengthen existing connections, both in construction and non-construction industries. As a required one-stop partner, YouthBuild grantees will benefit from accessing and leveraging the strengths of the American Job Center network to support participant success by gaining access to employer networks, job development professionals with direct knowledge of local labor market needs, and additional support services.
DOL encourages all YouthBuild programs to support the development of construction skills in clean energy technologies and sustainable construction and building practices. These trainings may include knowledge of sustainable building materials, solar panel installation, weatherization processes, and zero impact techniques to eliminate environmental waste from construction, among other green building techniques.
In response to a surge in gun violence in communities across the nation, violence that most harms communities of color and individuals in high-poverty neighborhoods, this FOA encourages applicants to incorporate wrap-around services and mentoring, work-based learning 5 and apprenticeship opportunities, education or school-based programs, to mitigate that violence and to reduce exposure for YouthBuild participants to gun violence. Research shows that exposure to firearm violence—including as a victim or witness—makes it twice as likely an adolescent will commit a violent act within two years.1 Additional proven community violence intervention (CVI) strategies for reducing gun violence include the provision of job training and youth employment opportunities both of which are fundamental to the YouthBuild program.
Because one of the goals of the YouthBuild program is to provide affordable housing, all YouthBuild grant programs must offer construction skills training. Construction skills training is central to the overall philosophy of the YouthBuild program and can provide a visible transformational experience for young people who have rarely had opportunities to see tangible and positive results from their efforts. All applicants must demonstrate their commitment to increasing the supply of permanent housing for homeless and/or lowincome individuals and families, which benefits the community where the affordable housing is built or renovated, and also provides youth with an opportunity to give back to their communities and work and learn in a team environment. YouthBuild grantees must accomplish this goal by having a sufficient number of youths enrolled in and completing the construction skills training component to enable the program to build or substantially renovate at least one unit of housing within the grant period of performance. Each program must also have access to a work site to use for on-site construction training. The construction work sites built and renovated by YouthBuild participants must only be constructed for homeless and/or low-income individuals and families to reside in. It is up to the grantee to determine the threshold number of participants that they will need during the program cycle to complete at least one unit of housing. However, all applicants must ensure that every participant will have hands-on work experience, whether on a construction work site or professional setting of their in-demand industry training. To ensure that grantees are meeting the minimum construction requirement, and to aid in collecting data on the impact of the YouthBuild program on local communities, YouthBuild programs are required to submit an annual housing census that tracks the number of housing units completed in that reporting year for each active grant.
To build or substantially renovate at least one unit of housing requires the new construction or substantial renovation of single-family homes or apartment/condominium/townhouse complexes, or the construction or substantial renovation of a single dwelling within a complex. Substantial renovation includes those activities that will provide YouthBuild participants with significant construction experience and knowledge that will prepare them for entry-level employment in the construction industry and connect to the construction curriculum used by the program. Painting or cleaning apartments and simple weatherization tasks do not constitute substantial renovation or a sufficiently comprehensive level of construction training to satisfy the requirement that each program build or substantially renovate a unit of housing, and thus, do not qualify as work sites. Applicants should use their selected construction curriculum as a planning resource for the proposed work sites, in order to ensure the training curriculum aligns with the skills participants can learn in hands-on work site experiences.