2015 News

$1.06M federal grant for St. Louis YouthBuild expands chances for at-risk youth

Dorothy Stoneman, founder and CEO of YouthBuild USA. Photo by Mary Butkus/WUSTL Photos

The U.S. Department of Labor on Monday confirmed a grant to St. Louis YouthBuild of $1.06 million to support academic and occupational skills training for at-risk youth. Washington University is is a partner with YouthBuild, a relationship that was seeded by an event early this year initiated by the Center for Social Development.

In February, Dorothy Stoneman, founder and CEO of YouthBuild USA Inc., visited Washington University in St. Louis to deliver a speech, “Beyond Ferguson: Empowering Low-Income Young People to Build the Future of Their Communities,” sponsored by the Center for Social Development (CSD), Washington University’s Provost Office, and the George Warren Brown School of Social Work.

The event led to discussions between St. Louis YouthBuild, CSD staff led by Lissa Johnson, administrative director, and Washington University officials about how to better connect young people in St. Louis to opportunities to develop careers, including attending college.

“The speech at the Brown School by Dorothy Stoneman, and additional remarks by Michael Brown’s uncle, spurred a productive discussion of WUSTL involvement in working with young people in Ferguson. We are delighted to work with Gephardt Institute and the whole campus in this initiative,” said Michael Sherraden, director of CSD.

The Labor Department’s grant to St. Louis YouthBuild is the only such grant awarded this month in Missouri. The department awarded nearly $76 million in grants to 72 YouthBuild programs in 31 states, the District of Columbia and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Nation, according to information from the department.

In addition, Washington University in St. Louis and its faculty, staff, students and service providers have agreed to provide in-kind services and/or resources, with an estimated value of $72,000 a year for 2015 through 2018. The university’s contributions will be in these areas:

Evaluation: Sean Joe, Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development and faculty director for youth development at CSD, will lead collaborative evaluation with YouthBuild.

Internship opportunities: The Gephardt Institute for Public Service will facilitate communication with Bon Appetit Management Co., which has expressed interest in providing internships in food service for students.

Mentoring, higher education exposure: The Gephardt Institute, directed by Amanda Moore McBride, Bettie Bofinger Brown Associate Professor and faculty director of civic engagement at CSD, will facilitate communication with The Strive for College student group, which has expressed interest in mentoring a YouthBuild cohort of ​students to provide guidance on the college application and enrollment process.

YouthBuild is a nonresidential, community-based alternative education program that provides classroom instruction and occupational skills training. It serves 16-to-24 year-olds who have dropped out of high school and who have been in the justice system, are aging out of foster care, have dropped out of high school, or are otherwise at risk of failing to reach key educational and career milestones.

YouthBuild is involved in extensive outreach in Ferguson, and some of the youth will be working on homes in Ferguson.

The Department of Labor grants will serve an estimated 4,800 participants nationally in the next three years.​