YouthBuild wins $787K federal grant

YouthBuild Lancaster has received $787,621 in grant funds from the U.S. Department of Labor.
YouthBuild, a program of Communities in Schools Lancaster, is an education and training program with a strong pre-apprenticeship component that helps at-risk youth ages 16 to 24 complete high school or state equivalency degree programs.

YouthBuild members earn industry-recognized credentials for in-demand occupations and undergo training to build housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families in their communities.
“We work with disadvantaged youth, or we like to call them opportunity youth, who are poised to make a difference in their life,” said Reggie Lowery, executive director of Communities in Schools Lancaster. “And I believe that’s the true catalyst for change that will push these young men and women to move forward with their lives and give them the skills they need.”
Youth split their time between the vocational training work site and the classroom, where they earn their high school diploma or equivalency degree, learn to be community leaders and prepare for postsecondary training opportunities, including college, apprenticeships and employment.
The U.S. Department of Labor has a network of more than 200 urban and rural YouthBuild programs in 46 states. Its 2018 grants, ranging from $700,000 to $1 million each, will fund 81 YouthBuild programs nationally.
The grant Lancaster YouthBuild received will support 22 YouthBuild members annually for two years, serving a total of 44 youth. Through a local partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lancaster County, YouthBuild members will construct two homes in Country Club Heights in Lancaster.
Nita Brown, executive director of the local Habitat chapter, said her group worked with YouthBuild to construct nearly all of its initial homes.
“This will benefit everybody because we’ll end up with a house without having to spend the full amount of money for the home build, YouthBuild members will have an opportunity to be trained in their vocation, and we’ll have another home provided for another family in Lancaster County who is in need,” Brown said. “It’s a win-win situation.”
Each YouthBuild member will gain first-hand knowledge in all phases of construction as well as a greater understanding of their community and its needs.
“The collaborative efforts we have with Habitat will allow for workforce readiness, job training and education – all those collective efforts a young person needs to make it in life,” said Jackie Harris, chairperson of Communities in Schools Lancaster. “But we’ll also see the benefits of homeownership for families in our community.”
YouthBuild Lancaster is accepting applications for its 2019-20 program until May 29. Space is limited. To apply to become a member of YouthBuild Lancaster or for more information visit

By Stephanie Jadrnicek, staff reporter with The Lancaster News