YouthBuild program launches to help at-risk teens and young adults

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NEWARK, NJ — This fall, the United Community Corporation is introducing its YouthBuild program to help young adults throughout Newark.

The service’s goal is to provide young adults with the opportunity to gain high school equivalency credentials or learn traits through pre-apprenticeship programs, all while earning monetary stipends.

Interested participants must be in the age range of 16 to 24 and can apply by emailing, visiting online at or calling 973-642-0181, ext. 5707.

“YouthBuild is very important for people that previously struggled academically, don’t know where they fit among their own community or aren’t sure of what their next step should be,” YouthBuild Director Jacqueline Henry said. “YouthBuild provides a place that gives a sense of community and can guide them to that next step.”

After months of planning, the program got underway on Sept. 8. Enrollment, however, is still open and will run until Friday, Sept. 18. After being accepted, all YouthBuild participants must complete two weeks of mental-strength training before they begin their selected program.

“My team and I are over-the-moon ecstatic to see this come together,” Henry said. “The young people are also excited to have the opportunity to learn through our program.”

One significantly appealing part of YouthBuild is its pre-apprenticeship programs, which offer training in construction, computer tech and medical and dental tech. Once the pre-apprenticeship is completed, the young adult will work with YouthBuild’s job developer to find the right placement and will work with an alumni specialist for a year as they break into their new field.

“This program is important for our young people because it gives them options,” Henry said. “For them to obtain a pre-apprenticeship, learn a trade and receive job assistance not only gives them a sense of worth but also allows them to help their own families with finances.”

YouthBuild is not only a job-placement service. It provides educational services as well. 

In addition to helping young adults that didn’t finish high school with the chance to earn a high school diploma equivalency, YouthBuild also works with students that may have graduated high school but still aren’t proficient in reading or math.

“The key thing with YouthBuild is that we’re doing this in a nontraditional way,” Henry said. “We are working with a cluster of young adults to show them that all hope isn’t lost. We are providing them with the road map.”

That road map can go in many different directions. 

Whether the young adults utilize YouthBuild’s community service program, alternative school program, pre-apprenticeship program or leadership development program, they will be working with people who will look to put them on the right track and guide them through the program and beyond — all while providing them with stipends so they can earn while they learn.

“Not only do they have the opportunity to learn, but they also have somebody that is committed to them,” Henry said. “Success for us would look like somebody completing our program, then have someone working with them for one year to make sure that they are secure in whichever path they choose.”

Photos Courtesy of Richard Greco