Director of Program Development Transitions to New Jersey Office of Adolescent Services

After nearly a decade of working to support, strengthen and expand YBN’s youth development programs, in September 2012, Director of Program Development Kelli Puryear transitioned to a new role as the governor-appointed Associate Director of the New Jersey Office of Adolescent Services.

Ms. Puryear first joined YBN in 2003 within a consultant capacity where she developed processes for optimizing YBN’s initial growth. Within her most recent position as Director of Program Development, Ms. Puryear managed all aspects of service delivery and oversaw YBN’s Intermediary Initiative, which comprises the statewide replication of the agency’s youthful offender program model in Jersey City, Atlantic City, Passaic, and Elizabeth.

Dedicated to, among other things, executing organizational development strategies that ultimately ensured agency effectiveness, Ms. Puryear played a pivotal role in charting YBN to its status as one of New Jersey’s most reputable youth development agencies. Yet beyond her professional contributions, Kelli positively impacted the YBN community in other ways, including mentoring fellow staffers.

Ms. Puryear recently completed the Robert Wood Johnson Ladders to Leadership program where she had the opportunity to enhance her leadership capacity through a curriculum designed for community-based nonprofit health organizations serving vulnerable populations.

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Ms. Puryear is a doctoral student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and earned a Masters in Social Work from Rutgers University School of Social Work.

YBN is immensely grateful for Kelli’s significant contribution to the agency’s youth development efforts and foresees her continuing a lengthy career of service to those most in need.


Shalom: Youthbuild Newark Welcomes Youthbuild Israel

NEWARK, NJ – October 22, 2012 – In a move to support effective at-risk youth development on a global scale, on October 15, 2012, YouthBuild Newark, Inc. (YBN) hosted youth development program YouthBuild Israel (YBIL) in Newark, New Jersey to share best practices and foster international learning.

Throughout the full day of knowledge-exchange, YBIL liaised with YBN’s Deputy Executive Director and other senior management staff; visited Newark Leadership Academy (NLA) -- YBN’s alternative vocational high school established in partnership with the Newark Public Schools (NPS); and lunched with YBN graduates. The group of diversely skilled professionals also toured one of YBN’s affordable housing sites (rehabbed by students) and visited the agency’s Independent Living Program, a transitional housing initiative that serves to further support students and graduates on the path to self-sufficiency.

In addition to YBIL’s Chairperson and Founder, and an YBIL Board Member, representatives from the National Insurance Institute of Israel – the country’s equivalent of the U.S. Department of Social Security, the Ministry of Welfare, and the Israeli Association of Community Centers also took part in the visit. Speaking at length with YBN’s frontline staff, YBIL expressed high regard for the agency’s holistic program culture and the obvious level of passion for serving disconnected young adults displayed by YBN staffers.

“The students and staff increased our understanding of the powerful impact that the YouthBuild program has on young people and the community.  We are so grateful to learn from YouthBuild Newark and are excited to bring these lessons back to Israel to support low-income young people in our country,” said Chairperson and Founder Dr. Edna Bustin. The group frequently vocalized their interest and intent in applying the recommendations gained from graduates and staff to the YBIL program.

Upon viewing one of YBN’s affordable housing projects on South 10th Street in the City’s West Ward, the group conveyed their admiration for the quality of students’ craftsmanship. YBN students’ commitment to fully applying the competence gained through their vocational learning has enabled YBN to consistently construct and make available affordable housing to low-income first-time homebuyers, thus contributing to Newark’s community development efforts.

Director of International Field Operations at YouthBuild International Laura Bennet stated, “YouthBuild Newark is helping young people to transform their lives and position themselves for successful careers while they rebuild the local community.  The delegation from YouthBuild Israel was inspired by their dialogue with students and staff – and it was great to see the YouthBuild Newark students sharing insights and recommendations to benefit our partners and young people in Israel.”

With a comparable population of disconnected young adults and a socio-economic environment similarly characterized by high unemployment and violence, YBN and YBIL are mutually invested in helping marginalized young adults develop the skills needed to transform their lives and communities. According to YBIL, “Fifteen percent (350,000) of youth growing up in Israel are considered ‘at-risk.’ The unemployment rate for women and men ages 15-24 is 19 percent, which is roughly twice the rate of adults. In addition, 60 percent of young people do not enter college or technical training following military service and unemployed youth represent more than a quarter of the unemployed.” With YBIL located only 30 miles from the notoriously violence-ridden Gaza strip, the need to sustain a youth development program in the area is evident.

Organized by YouthBuild International, which works to support the adaptation and replication of the YouthBuild model around the world, YBIL’s visit was a move to support its efforts to establish a large-scale permanent program in the historic city of Lod and to institutionalize the program within the government.

With YBN having previously hosted YouthBuild South Africa and YouthBuild Brazil, YBIL is the third international program to approach YBN for guidance on how to positively impact disadvantaged young adults. A contingency from Kenya has also expressed interest in visiting YBN to garner insight on how to implement successful youth programming. YBIL’s visit further speaks to YBN’s presence as a national model for holistic youth development.

Nearing a decade in service, YouthBuild Newark, Inc. (YBN) (www.youthbuildnewarknj.org) is a youth and community development agency that works to help low-income 16 to 24 year old disconnected youth and young adults improve their life trajectory and lead productive, self-sufficient lives. With offices centrally located in Newark, New Jersey, YBN has programmatic impact in four (4) other high-need cities throughout the State of New Jersey. In September 2011, YBN also introduced its proven youth development model to Newark Public Schools (NPS) when it launched Newark Leadership Academy (NLA), an alternative vocational high school for over-aged and under-credited 16 to 20 year old youth. YBN’s program is based upon the national YouthBuild model, which has received bi-partisan political support since its inception in 1978.

Launched in 2007, YouthBuild Israel (YBIL) (http://www.youthbuildinternational.org/israel) is a multi-sector initiative designed to engage Israel’s most marginalized young adults (18-28) in a program to increase their economic security through employment or self-employment and to improve communities through the creation of tangible assets such houses, schools, environmental upgrades, youth enterprises, and community centers. In partnership with several government ministries, NGOs, donors, and private sector partners, YBIL is piloting the program in Be’re Sheva/Dimona, Beit She’an, Akko, Ofakim, and Kisra s’mia with adaptations for the Israeli context.