YouthBuild Newark Partnership with All-Tech Featured in SBC Magazine

17973624_1233794326742238_2965414149537079708_oThe article describes the emergence of YouthBuild Newark's (YBN's) relationship with the country's leading framing contractor specializing in residential and commercial construction throughout the NY/NJ/PA tri-state area. YBN began developing a partnership with All-Tech earlier this year that has, to date, involved a tour of All-Tech's jobsite in Secaucus, NJ, and job placements for graduates at the company. YBN is excited about the growth of this partnership and the additional career opportunities it offers students and graduates. Read the full story here.

LEAD Charter School Selects Inaugural Principal

Juan Acevedo (cropped)

Once an emerging concept, LEAD Charter School (LEAD) is steadily on its way to becoming a concrete intervention for the thousands of Newark youth who are too old for traditional high school, yet are ill-prepared for the workforce.

Much has happened since LEAD was approved for launch by the New Jersey Department of Education in 2016. Staffers and volunteers are close to completing the facility. Juan Acevedo, former assistant principal at Mastery Charter High School in Pennsylvania, will usher in LEAD’s inaugural school year as principal.

Juan has considerable experience as an educational leader. He has a master's degree in educational leadership. As a Teach For America Corps Member Adviser, he managed and mentored first-year teachers to develop their skills to increase their impact on student achievement. For five years, Juan served as a high school mathematics teacher at South Philadelphia High School where he also progressed to the role of mathematics department chair.

The opportunity to serve as assistant principal on the Lenfest Campus of Mastery Charter School came soon after. While there, Juan oversaw the daily operations of the school maintaining an average daily membership of 554 students and led the professional development and growth of math teachers as an instructional specialist.

Juan most recently served as Merit Preparatory Charter School’s director of operations. He has been working alongside staff teams at YouthBuild Newark (YBN) and OYN to ensure LEAD’s launch year is a success. To date, LEAD has hired 81% of all staff, including 83% of instructional personnel. A furniture donation from Freeman Furniture, a corporate partner of YouthBuild USA, and volunteer support have positioned the building to likely be complete by July 30th.

YouthBuild Newark Expands Leadership Team

Dowayne Davis

YouthBuild Newark (YBN) is evolving in strategy and talent. The launch of LEAD Charter School and the Newark Opportunity Youth Network (OYN) are two new initiatives central to the YBN board's vision for greater impact in the city. YBN is excited about the additions to its team and the exciting work ahead.

Dowayne Davis, who is currently director of finance and operations at People’s Preparatory Charter School, has been selected to serve as YBN’s executive director of finance and operations. Dowayne is a doctoral candidate in New Jersey City University’s Educational Technology Leadership program and earned his MBA from the Zicklin School of Business. He is a former fellow of the reputable program Education Pioneers, an agency recognized for its efforts to prepare diverse individuals for educational leadership.

Mark Comesanas

Mark Comesañas, has been selected to serve as YBN’s executive director of program and instruction.  He has been an educational leader within the Newark Public Schools district for thirteen (13) years – four (4) of them as the founding principal of the Fast Track Success Academy (now UPLIFT Academy), which is a partner alternative vocational high school that draws upon YBN’s youth development framework to engage over-age and under-credited youth. He earned his master’s in educational leadership from Montclair State University and is a founding board member of LEAD Charter School.

YouthBuild Newark Debuts Fellowship Program

YouthBuild Newark Fellowship Program

Throughout its 13+ years of operating in the multi-layered city of Newark, YouthBuild Newark (YBN) has observed that genuine change - the kind that multiplies and innovates from generation to generation - requires training individuals to advocate for their communities. A part of that work involves preparing those who have been disenfranchised to contribute to movement-building. Following an anonymous donation, YBN has launched a fellowship program to do just that.

A seasoned photographer who operates his own photography business, Michael Shaw is YBN's inaugural fellow who dove into the work of the Opportunity Youth Network Re-Engagement Center (REC), including leading art therapy exercises for students experiencing long-term suspension from their assigned schools. Mike also applies his trained eye and technical skills toward capturing students in action. He photographs Mental Toughness Orientations, and other group workshops and activities.

The staff at YBN is investing in Mike to become a builder, convener, and people manager. As someone who exemplifies how YBN works with off-track youth and young men in particular, to find purpose and place, the agency is eager to see how the fellowship continues to promote personal transformation and meets the needs of young people.

Stanford Alumni Get LEAD Charter School Ready For Launch


On Saturday, May 20th, YouthBuild Newark (YBN), the Opportunity Youth Network (OYN), and alternative vocational high school partners Newark Leadership Academy and UPLIFT Academy hosted several volunteers from the Stanford University alumni association, Beyond the Farm. Volunteers gathered to help with renovations as LEAD Charter School prepares for its September 2017 opening as New Jersey’s first alternative vocational charter school. 

Wearing YBN AmeriCorps service shirts, volunteers bonded with students and graduates while they painted classrooms and participated in team-building activities. Beyond the Farm seeks to extend Stanford's spirit of service to communities around the world through the volunteer efforts of alumni, family and friends. Volunteers represented various professions - television and media, finance, technology, education, construction, business, and environmental services. After completing the project, volunteers expressed a desire to continue their involvement with LEAD to ensure its success. YBN appreciates their commitment to investing their time in the development of future leaders.










YouthBuild Newark Partners with HANDS for Pilot Program


YBN has partnered with HANDS to pilot a youth construction program in Orange, NJ. YBN will provide construction training to a small group of young adults in the target neighborhood HANDS is currently helping to revitalize. The program was made possible through funding from the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program (NRTC), which  is designed to foster the revitalization of New Jersey’s distressed neighborhoods. Provident Bank is a contributor to the project.

HANDS has implemented neighborhood revitalization efforts in Orange and East Orange for over 30 years. By targeting the most pivotal properties for development, engaging citizens and other stakeholders, and leveraging investments of time and funds, HANDS has stabilized neighborhoods and created long-term sustainable change. HANDS focuses on redeveloping vacant and foreclosed homes for affordable homeownership, adaptively reusing former industrial and commercial buildings as mixed use developments, developing resident leaders and leading community visioning and comprehensive planning.

This program resembles YBN’s previous pilot initiative in 2007 when support from the U.S. Department of Labor enabled YBN to expand its programming into the Ironbound community in Newark and the neighboring city of East Orange for youth impacted by the justice system. The initiative helped 83% of students obtain credentials and/or transition to postsecondary education, advanced training, and employment. The program provided the foundation for YBN’s 2010 State-wide Intermediary initiative and the current city-wide Opportunity Youth Network.




Students Complete Justice-Focused Youth Leadership Program

20170531_185412 (1)

A new program through the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) is empowering young adults to transform juvenile justice across the state. 

In May, students completed the NJISJ Youth Leadership Program, a new initiative designed to help train young adults to become leaders in their communities by helping to transform the youth justice system. The weekly program, which lasted just under two months, was particularly transformative for students who'd experienced the justice system, either indirectly through family and friends, or directly through arrest or incarceration.

Students learned to better advocate for themselves, including knowing their rights in the justice system. 23-year-old Lord said, “I loved it. When you’re there, you’re learning so much and also giving your input on things.”

20170531_184234(0) (1)To continue their learning and impact, students have the option of helping to advocate for the closing of the New Jersey Training School, the Juvenile Justice Commission’s largest facility for male juveniles – or engaging in another juvenile justice campaign.

Rebuilding a Neighborhood Through Affordable Housing

Before & After (171 Seymour)

Since completing their first affordable home on Seymour Avenue, YouthBuild Newark (YBN) students and staff, and community partners like the Community Asset Preservation Corporation (CAPC) have continued their efforts to revitalize Seymour Avenue in Newark, NJ. YBN has since completed five additional units at 171 and 185 Seymour Avenue.

For the past two years, YBN has concentrated its vocational training and housing revitalization on Seymour Avenue, the core of Newark's Model Block Neighborhood Project. “Model Block” is designed to bring a comprehensive revitalization strategy to a targeted area that is dealing with significant distress. YBN’s rehabilitation of these properties helps to provide Newark residents with job training opportunities, reduce blight, and increase the availability of quality affordable housing. The following photos depict the transformation of a property located at 171 Seymour Avenue.











YouthBuild Newark Receives Rutgers Donation through Experiential Philanthropy

IMG_4567 (2)Last month, students enrolled at the Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) selected YouthBuild Newark (YBN) to receive a $1,000 donation as part of a course on experiential philanthropy. Students identified YBN as a local organization positively impacting the community.

Experiential philanthropy is touted as an emerging new pedagogy that places students in the role of funder. It integrates charitable giving with academic instruction to teach students how to utilize philanthropy to respond to local social challenges. YBN will utilize these funds to support its core programming and strategic initiatives such as LEAD Charter School and the Opportunity Youth Network.