U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Joins YouthBuild Students to Build Homes for Low-Income Families
SAN LUIS, ArizMarch 2, 2016Bound by their common lack of opportunity and struggles to get a quality education and job training, seventy YouthBuild students from Arizona, Mexico and El Salvador met in San Luis today for the program’s first transnational event. YouthBuild students and graduates joined together to build walls for two green homes that will be owned by low-income families.
The goal of the first-ever Prudential YouthBuild Global Service Day is to spark conversation about effective ways to foster opportunity and self-reliance for young adults who previously never finished high school and face other life challengeschallenges that are common for young people across the globe.
YouthBuild is a national program where unemployed, undereducated and out-of-school young people work toward their GED or high school diploma, while learning job skills by building affordable housing and other community assets in their neighborhoods and engaging in community service and leadership training. Graduates leave prepared for success in postsecondary education, careers, and registered apprenticeships and as, just as important, a part of a strong and supportive community.
Heather Higginbottom, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Statefor Management and Resources, was on-hand to welcome the students.
“Secretary Kerry has been a champion of YouthBuild for over 20 years. The program he first learned about in Boston has grown throughout the United States and around the world and it is meaningful to both the Secretary and to me to be a part of this event, which for the first time brings YouthBuild students in the United States, and those of two other nations together in service. Secretary Kerry’s special bond with YouthBuild followed him to the State Department and to the corners of the earth because the mission is universal: building opportunity for youth means stronger and more resilient societies, a cornerstone of good foreign policy,” said Deputy Secretary Higginbottom.
Prudential Financial, a global financial services leader, has been a supporter of YouthBuild’s efforts in the U.S. and across the globe for more than 15 years. Through this partnership, Prudential has helped YouthBuild expand their operations and reach even more opportunity youth. Lata Reddy, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at Prudential and president of The Prudential Foundation, attended the event and remarked on how the combined efforts of these two organizations are changing lives for the better.
“Prudential’s relationship with YouthBuild began with a grant, but has grown into a full corporate partnership one that leverages Prudential’s business expertise alongside both its financial and human resources,” said Reddy. “In almost two decades, Prudential has provided more than $9.5 million in grants to YouthBuild, including a recent commitment of $2.75 million to continue to expand programs globally. This partnership is a critical part of our commitment to helping young people achieve economic success while learning the skills necessary to improve their lives.”
Tim Cross, president of YouthBuild International, over sees programs in 21 countries where YouthBuild has been replicated by NGOs, government agencies, international development institutions, and global companies. The model has been adapted for implementation in rural and urban settings, located in developing countries, emerging economies, and industrialized nations.For example, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is an important strategic partner in expanding YouthBuild programs in Latin America; CRS brought students from El Salvador to the Global Service Day.
“We are happy to join with our partners from the Prudential Corporation and the Secretary of State’s office to support the efforts of YouthBuild students to build homes for needy families in San Luis,” said Cross. “The impulse of young people to advance their education and livelihood goals while giving back to their local communities and nations is a global forcethat mustbe tapped to address many of the challenges facing the planet. We see this force at work across the expanding network of YouthBuild programs, in over 20 countries. This event in San Luis illustrates the power of bringing young people together to improve their communities.”
The young people from Mexico and El Salvador crossed international borders to work with their peers from Arizona on this housing project. One of the graduates from YouthBuild Yuma County shared with attendees his personal journey from high school dropout and farmworker to medical assistant.
“I dropped out of high school to work in the fields as a broccoli cutter in order to financially support my family,” said Joel Solorio, a 2014 graduate of YouthBuild Yuma County. “Thankfully I found YouthBuild and enrolling in the program was the best decision I could have ever made. They taught me the three basics of the modern world: participation, respect and discipline. I earned my GED and went on to take classes at Border Health to become a medical assistant. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, and now thanks to my YouthBuild family, I am closer than ever to that goal,” Solorio added.
Portable Practical Educational Preparation, Inc. (PPEP) runs YouthBuild programs in Yuma and Pima Counties and played a major role in organizing the event, along with Comit de Bienestar, a non-profit empowering low-income individuals and families. Comit owns the land where the YouthBuild students are building the green homes.
PPEP chief administrative officer, Kari Hogan, said Joel Solorio’s story is just one of hundreds of success stories she has witnessed.
“These young people have been through so much in their lives yet they still strive for success,” Hogan said. “It was great to see the students from each country compare their experiences and learn from each other at today’s event,” said Hogan. “This will be a moment that no one forgets anytime soon and these types of activities and moments show the true benefit of programs like YouthBuild and what we can accomplish by working together for the betterment of our communities and the futures of our youth.
Gary Black, deputy director of Comit de Bienestar, said his organization has worked successfully with YouthBuild to make lasting changes to the local community.
“Construction is intrinsically rewarding,” said Black. “Each youth will remember their experience building the house, and the new home owner will never forget how YouthBuild youth have helped them achieve the reality of owning a home.”
The day concluded with a roundtable discussion between students and Deputy Secretary Higginbottom, San Luis Mayor Jerry Sanchez, and Congressman Ral Grijalva’s Office.
About YouthBuild USA Inc. and YouthBuild International:
YouthBuild USA, Inc.,www.youthbuild.org, based in Somerville, MA, is the non-profit support center for over 260 local YouthBuild programs operating in45 states and the District of Columbia. In YouthBuild programs, unemployed and undereducated low income out-of-school young people ages 16 to 24work toward their GED or high school diploma, while learning job skills by building affordable housing and other community assets in theirneighborhoods, engaging in community service and leadership training.YouthBuild USA also sponsors the YouthBuild International effort that hasgenerated over 100 local YouthBuild programs in 21 countries worldwide. There are two ways a local program can be authorized to use the YouthBuildbrand in the U.S.: either they can directly win a US Department of Labor YouthBuild grant, or they can be licensed by YouthBuild USA to use the namewhen they demonstrate commitment to the basic philosophy and design.
The YouthBuild International (YBI) mission is to unleash the intelligence and positive energy of young people to transform their lives and rebuild theircommunities. YBI provides technical resources to support the planning and implementation of locally operated YouthBuild programs and scalednetworks of national and regional YouthBuild programs, outside of the United States. YBI also builds the capacity of local, national, and regionalpartners who have assessed the need for and potential impact of YouthBuild and who lead the process of adaptation and implementation.
About Prudential Financial:
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader with more than $1 trillion of assets under management as of December 31, 2015, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit www.news.prudential.com.
About Comit de Bienestar:
Comit de Bienestar is a non-profit based in San Luis, Arizona that works to empower low-income individuals and families to overcome barriers throughbuilding assets and enhancing community development. This is accomplished by enhancing the economic and social well being of the community through cooperative land development, housing, lending, and social services. They work to empower moderate to low income families in the community by helping them to overcome the many barriers they face, including very low wages, little access to conventional financing and limited political representation. The Comit owns the land where YouthBuild students will be building green homes as a part of the Prudential YouthBuild Global Service Day event. Two families will receive these homes that otherwise may not have been able to afford a home of their own because of the Comit and their community partnerships. The Comit and PPEP YouthBuild have worked together for over 8 years in the development of low income affordable housing; building three homes per year on average, and training youth in construction, education and career development.
About PPEP YouthBuild Programs:
Portable Practical Educational Preparation, Inc. (PPEP) runs YouthBuild programs in Yuma and Pima Counties and has played a major role in organizing the Prudential YouthBuild Global Service Day. PPEP YouthBuild strives to create a positive atmosphere that promotes education, introduces mentoring and creates an avenue for success. It provides an avenue to jump start continued education, working to break generational cycles of no education and offers first time college opportunity for opportunity youth. It provides development opportunities and a way to engage staff to work effectively with youth. It provides new connections for youth and enhances professional and personal development. The mission of the PPEP YouthBuild programs specifically is to “Enhance Lives and Dream Fearlessly”. PPEP’s mission and purpose is to be better leaders through consistent practices, accountability, and support to create a path for youth to serve and become more involved in their community.