Press Release

Gillibrand, Espaillat, James Stand At Youth Action YouthBuild In East Harlem Calling For Funding To Support Apprenticeship Program For At-Risk Youth

Jun 7, 2021

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), New York Attorney General Letitia James, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer visited the YouthAction YouthBuild (YAYB) center in East Harlem to call for an increase in federal funding for the YouthBuild program, which helps at-risk youth from ages 16 to 24 develop skills and knowledge to gain industry-recognized job credentials, apprenticeships, and employment. In the United States alone, there are 3 million young adults in this age group who are living in poverty and are neither in school nor employed. The YouthBuild evidence-based model helps participants earn their high school diploma or equivalent and teaches job skills through community service, including building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people in their communities. There are currently 18 YouthBuild programs located throughout New York State that are eligible for funding. 

“YouthBuild has a proven track record of preparing at-risk youth throughout New York State with the skills and mentorship necessary to get good jobs and achieve their full potential,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’ve seen the beautiful homes that YouthBuild participants have built around New York State, and this critical investment will enable YouthBuild to continue creating opportunities for all students. I am proud to lead my Senate colleagues in calling for increased funds for this vital program and will continue to fight to make sure that our state has the resources needed to build the next generation of leaders.” 

“Youth Action YouthBuild is headquartered in East Harlem and puts countless young New Yorkers on the path to self-empowerment through mentorship, training, and job-placement assistance. Over 250,000 New Yorkers ages 16–24 are still in need of the assistance, and funding for organizations like YAYB will help reach their goals,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “I am delighted to stand with Senator Gillibrand and other community leaders today to support YAYB and its efforts to empower our youth by providing tangible, lasting assistance to promising young New Yorkers – helping them reach their fullest potential.”

“Far too often, young people stricken by poverty don’t have access to the resources and education they need to support themselves and their families,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “By providing critical skills training, leadership development, and employment opportunity, YouthBuild sets thousands of underprivileged young people on a path to a successful future, while building critical affordable housing in their neighborhoods. As countless young people continue to live in poverty today, I join Senator Gillibrand in calling for an increase in funding to address the demand of the YouthBuild program. Our young people deserve every opportunity to thrive.”

“We are delighted to stand with Senator Gillibrand in support of the YouthBuild program,” said Robert Taylor, Executive Director of Youth Action YouthBuild. “As the first YouthBuild site in the nation, we know well the difference this workforce program makes in the lives of our young people.”

“I’m proud to stand with YouthBuild, Senator Gillibrand, and Representative Espaillat to support increased funding for this national model that is mind-blowingly successful,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “YouthBuild offers a second chance to their students–almost all of whom have dropped out of high school. With increased federal funding of $150 million a year, YouthBuild could deepen its impact and get more degrees and paychecks into students’ hands. To ‘build back better,’ we need to invest in YouthBuild today.”

“One Hundred Black Men, Inc. (OHBM) is excited about the continuation of the YouthBuild program and Senator Gillibrand’s ongoing commitment to programs that enhance the lives of adolescents in New York City,” said Aldrin Enis, President of the Founding Chapter of One Hundred Black Men. “Programs such as these are in line with OHBM’s cornerstone initiatives of mentoring, scholarship, and community engagement.  Founded in New York City in 1963 as an organization dedicated empowering the Black community, One Hundred Black Men, Inc. looks forward to continued collaboration with partners, like YouthBuild and Senator Gillibrand, who enhance job readiness, reduce recidivism, and increase safe communities within this great city.”

Every year, nearly 1 million young people, including 50 percent in low-income communities, leave high school without a diploma. The Department of Labor’s YouthBuild program is a community-based education program that helps at-risk youth complete high school or state equivalency degree programs, earn industry-recognized certifications for in-demand jobs, and undergo training to build housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families in their communities. YouthBuild began over 40 years ago in East Harlem, and since then, the program has grown into a network of approximately 300 locations nationwide and around the world. Over 180,000 YouthBuild participants across 46 states have dedicated more than 50 million hours of service since federal funding for the program began in 1992, and the YouthBuild model has spread around the world to another 17 countries with nearly 60 more local programs.

Year after year, Senator Gillibrand has successfully pushed for increased federal funding for YouthBuild. She recently submitted a bipartisan funding request for FY22 to Senate appropriators to exceed last year’s $96 million in funding and is calling in step with President Biden for a 145 million dollar federal investment. In December 2020, Senator Gillibrand successfully led a bipartisan push securing $96,534,000 in funds for YouthBuild during Fiscal Year 2021. Funding for DOL’s YouthBuild Program would help more disconnected youth benefit from these critical job training and educational services.

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s FY21 request letter can be found here and FY22 here