Completing the Year's 1st Affordable Home

Project Partners

Earlier this year, public and private organizations, residents, and over 60 students from YouthBuild Newark (YBN) and Newark Leadership Academy (NLA) gathered to celebrate students' rehabilitation of a 2-family affordable home in Newark’s South Ward.

Front view of rehabbed home

Representatives from the City of Newark, JP Morgan Chase, New Jersey Community Capital, and the Community Asset Preservation Corporation, and Congressman Donald Payne participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The completed home, slated to be sold to a low-income family or individual, is located on Seymour Avenue, which is at the core of Newark’s “Model Block” initiative. “Model Block” is designed to bring a comprehensive revitalization strategy to an area (the South Ward) dealing with significant blight.


YBN, the City of Newark, New Jersey Community Capital, the Community Asset Preservation, and other community partners are working together to develop additional properties in the neighborhood.

YouthBuild Newark Construction Team

Congressman Donald Payne

2016 YBN Grad Wendy Cruz

YBN Graduate Takes Action for Newark Schools


In response to the current water crisis affecting nearly half of Newark’s schools, 2008 YBN graduate and Home Depot associate Hassan gathered fellow Newarkers and co-workers to deliver bottled water to several schools. Read more about Hassan's efforts here.

MLK Day of Service – A Day 'On'

Last Monday, students, graduates, and staff from YouthBuild Newark (YBN), and partner schools Newark Leadership Academy (NLA) and Fast Track Success Academy (“Fast Track”) braved the winter chill to distribute care packages to the homeless in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

MLK Day 5

Serving hot food and coffee prepared by Kinard Family Helping Hands, for three hours, young adults and staff gave out packages in Franciscan Park, adjacent to Newark Penn Station Newark, which has long been a haven for homeless individuals. Care packets included toiletries and clothing to arm those in need against the cold temperatures.

MLK Day 10

Kinard Family Helping Hands, an organization formed in response to the call for all to provide a day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day rather than take a day off, has dedicated its efforts to feeding the homeless for 3 years.

Community service is one of YBN’s core principles. We firmly believe that providing young adults with opportunities to address community challenges awakens their social consciousness and enables them to view themselves as what they intrinsically are – change agents.

MLK Day 1


MLK Day 9

MLK Day 3


YBNers as Storytellers


How do you use storytelling to drive social change? This year YBN students and graduates learned just how as part of Rutgers University-Newark’s (RUN’s) newly launched Urban Civic Initiative (UCI) course. Along with RUN students, they discovered how to use personal storytelling as a vehicle for better understanding social equity and cohesion.

The UCI “My Story” Project is an education-based experimental collaboration between YBN, the RUN Department of Arts, Culture and Media, and the Poland-based Borderland Foundation. The course culminates with a performance by RUN and YBN students.

Graduate Spotlight


Yuleika, Class of 2012
Many YBN students have multiple co-existing challenges that can make the path to upward mobility difficult. But throughout the program, they regularly demonstrate their resiliency and a steadfast commitment to improving their lives. Yuleika is one such case.

Yuleika entered the foster care system at the age of 13. When she was 17 years old, her daughter was born. Having dropped out of school a few years prior and a new mother, Yuleika decided she had to do something. She decided to apply to YBN after learning about the program through her sister who happened to be a YouthBuild Paterson graduate.

Although she at first found the program difficult, Yuleika remained motivated. “It was hard because I didn’t want to leave my daughter [but she] kept me in the program. I had to set an example for her,” she said.

During her enrollment, Yuleika interned with Newark Community Health Centers without pay or a guarantee of employment. But she persisted. She now works there full-time providing administrative support and plans to start college in the spring to pursue an associate’s degree in nursing.

Although she works full-time, Yuleika has committed to sharing her story with others. She recently spoke with participants of YBN’s Fall 2015 Mental Toughness Orientation, a two-week process that introduces applicants to the YBN program and its expectations. Her simple advice to youth who are facing obstacles that may seem too large to overcome is, “Don’t stop.”

New Jersey Communities Forward Train the Trainer Session


A partner of New Jersey Communities Forward, YBN hosted a full-day training session to prepare community volunteers to facilitate small discussion groups around issues of community policing, police body cameras, the impending consent decree, and other concerns associated with Newark police community engagement. The session was a lead-up to “The Future of Policing: What Does it Mean for Our City?”” an event that brought together more than 100 individuals to discuss effective policies concerning law enforcement issues facing the city of Newark.

Volunteers included Rutgers University-Newark staff and students, retired police officers, the Urban League of Essex County, YBN staff, and the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice. Check out video coverage of the event here.

Introducing ServiceWorks


This year, YBN welcomed LaRhonda and Jessica, two AmeriCorps VISTA members who are working to design and implement ServiceWorks’ Service Scholar curriculum at YBN and its partner schools.

As Service Scholars, students will have the opportunity to further strengthen their leadership and project management skills, and be challenged to apply them in ways that address community needs through service. Powered by AmeriCorps, the Citi Foundation and Points of Light, ServiceWorks is a national program that offers a service-based approach to helping young adults build 21st century professional and leadership skills in preparation for college and careers.



An International Exchange of Best Practices


Representatives from several South Africa-based agencies visited YBN to learn about the agency’s holistic youth development model and best practices around youth engagement.

Individuals from the Department of Public Works, the National Department of Arts and Culture, the National Treasury, and Department of Small Business Planning took a tour of YBN’s program facility, spoke with YBN staff and graduates and toured partner school Newark Leadership Academy. This is the fourth international group YBN has hosted – we have previously hosted YouthBuild Israel, YouthBuild South Africa, and YouthBuild Brazil.



YBN Co-Hosts LEAD Charter School Open House

Youth Opportunity Fund Partnership

Community stakeholders gathered at YBN to learn about the proposed LEAD Charter School that will serve as an additional option for comprehensively preparing Newark youth for college and careers.

The mission of LEAD Charter School is to help students ages 16-20 in grades 9-12 master the essential skills crucial for success in postsecondary education, career, and community leadership within a global society. LEAD Charter School has been approved by the New Jersey Department of Education to move to Phase II of the charter school application process.




YouthBuild Newark Selected as Grant Recipient of Youth Opportunity Fund to Connect Low-Income Youth in Newark to Career Opportunities

Youth Opportunity Fund Partnership

The new $3 million Fund, led by the Citi Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance, supports innovative city programs that prepare low-income youth for future success.

Newark, New Jersey (August 26, 2015)The Citi Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance today announced that YouthBuild Newark has been selected as a recipient of the Youth Opportunity Fund, a $3 million initiative to support city-level, innovative and scalable programs connecting youth to opportunities that increase their employability and prepare them for lifelong success.

The Youth Opportunity Fund is part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, designed to support direct-service programs that empower urban youth, ages 16 to 24. A total of 12 grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations in 10 of the largest U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Newark, St. Louis, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

YouthBuild Newark will receive a one-year grant totaling $250,000 to help young people. YouthBuild Newark, in conjunction with the City of Newark and Newark Public Schools, will provide nearly 300 young people who are out-of-school and served in a community-based setting and/or enrolled in its partner alternative high schools with job training, career exploration, and national service opportunities.

“This Fund allows YouthBuild Newark to deepen its impact as we continue our long-standing partnership with the City of Newark, Newark Public Schools and community-based agencies to design a system to support the thousands of young people who are disconnected from services.” says Robert Clark, YouthBuild Newark’s Founding Executive Director.

“Increasing the number of people trained to work will boost the Newark economy, now and in the future,” said Mayor Ras Baraka. “We are eager to work with YouthBuild Newark – with support from America’s Promise Alliance and the Citi Foundation – to develop homegrown talent, improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens, and help strengthen our communities and our city.”

The Fund supports programs that address youth unemployment through partnerships with municipal governments and collaborations across industries that are core to the economies of the Pathways to Progress cities, including: IT, tech, healthcare, the service industry and environmental sustainability. Grantees will collaborate and share best practices on the most effective ways to expand and connect youth to economic opportunity in their communities.

“We are pleased to partner with YouthBuild Newark, America’s Promise Alliance and the Citi Foundation to help young people in our city train for and find meaningful jobs and careers,” said Chris Cerf, newly- appointed Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. “We’re eager to work together to help more young adults build a stronger foundation for academic and career success.”

“The future competitiveness of America’s cities hinges on the positive economic outcomes of our young people,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “We launched the Youth Opportunity Fund to support the innovative work of community partners who are helping low-income youth create the on-ramps that will lead towards career success.”

“We are dealing with the mixed reality of our nation’s high school graduation numbers increasing at unprecedented rates, while an estimated 5.6 million young people are not in school or employed,” said John Gomperts, president & CEO of America’s Promise. “The dozen Youth Opportunity Fund grantees are vital to connecting thousands of young people to opportunities that boost their ability to compete in today’s economy.”

In its first year, nearly 25,000 young people have been impacted by the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, a three-year, $50 million commitment to give 100,000 low-income youth in the U.S. the opportunity to develop the workplace skills and leadership experience necessary to compete in a 21st century economy. The initiative includes national organizations such as: the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Points of Light, AmeriCorps, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, iMentor and the Cities for Financial Empowerment.

Learn more about the Youth Opportunity Fund, and see a full list of grantees here.

About YouthBuild Newark

YouthBuild Newark (YBN) is an innovation-driven youth and community development agency that has drawn upon developmental theory and proven practices to serve Greater Newark’s disconnected (“opportunity”) youth for over twelve (12) years. To successfully engage and prepare young adults for 21st century careers, the agency incorporates academic instruction using Common Core State Standards-aligned curriculum; training in in-demand sectors such as construction and healthcare; case management, and life skills and career counseling; service-learning; leadership development; and follow-up services.

About America’s Promise Alliance

America’s Promise Alliance leads an alliance of organizations, communities and individuals dedicated to making the promise of America real for every child. As its signature effort, the GradNation campaign mobilizes Americans to increase the on-time high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and prepare young people for postsecondary enrollment and the 21st century workforce.

About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation.

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