YouthBuild is a community-based alternative education program for youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are high school dropouts, adjudicated youth, youth aging out of foster care, youth with disabilities, homeless youth, and other disadvantaged youth populations. The YouthBuild program simultaneously addresses several core issues important to low-income communities: affordable housing, education, employment, leadership development and energy efficiency.
The YouthBuild model balances project-based academic learning and occupational skills training to prepare disadvantaged youth for career placement. The academic component assists youth who are often significantly behind in basic skill development to obtain a high school diploma or state high school equivalency credential. The occupational skills training component prepares at-risk youth to gain placement into career pathways and/or further education or training, and also supports the goal of increasing affordable housing within communities by teaching youth construction skills learned by building or significantly renovating homes for sale or rent to low-income families or transitional housing for homeless families or individuals.
Career Pathways are a key strategy to increase employment opportunities, including through the use of apprenticeships. YouthBuild programs funded by DOL are recognized as pre-apprenticeship programs, thus grantees are expected to develop program models that align with pre-apprenticeship.
YouthBuild programs are required partners of American Job Centers, or one-stop centers. All YouthBuild programs must adhere to the requirements of being a one-stop partner. Partnering with American Job Centers provides an opportunity for YouthBuild grantees to develop the necessary partnerships for Construction Plus training.
WIOA places a strong emphasis on the role of employers in successful workforce development strategies, and requires grantees to report on their effectiveness in serving employers. Grantees awarded under this announcement are expected to actively develop new employer relationships and strengthen existing connections, both in construction and non-construction industries. As a required one-stop partner, YouthBuild grantees will benefit from accessing and leveraging the strengths of the American Job Center network to support participant success by gaining access to employer networks, job development professionals with direct knowledge of local labor market needs, and additional support services.
Because one of the goals of the YouthBuild program is to provide affordable housing, all YouthBuild grant programs must offer construction skills training. Construction skills training is central to the overall philosophy of the YouthBuild program and can provide a visible transformational experience for young people who have rarely had opportunities to see tangible and positive results from their efforts. All applicants must demonstrate their commitment to increasing the supply of permanent housing for homeless and/or lowincome individuals and families, which benefits the community where the affordable housing is built or renovated, and also provides youth with an opportunity to give back to their communities and work and learn in a team environment. YouthBuild grantees must accomplish this goal by having a sufficient number of youths enrolled in and completing the construction skills training component to enable the program to build or substantially renovate at least one unit of housing within the grant period of performance. Each program must also have access to a work site to use for on-site construction training. The construction work sites built and renovated by YouthBuild participants must only be constructed for homeless and/or low-income individuals and families to reside in.
To support the career pathway focus, DOL strongly encourages all YouthBuild applicants to develop program proposals that include occupational skills training in other in-demand industries in addition to construction skills training. This expansion into additional in-demand industries is referred to in YouthBuild as the Construction Plus component and is a focus of this Administration. DOL offered Construction Plus in recognition that YouthBuild participants pursue fields beyond construction after exiting the program. The Construction Plus component creates an expanded opportunity for training in in-demand fields that benefits participants and local employers. Unlike the 2018 competition, DOL will not award priority consideration points for Construction Plus. Instead, only those applicants proposing Construction Plus are eligible to earn up to 100 points, while those not proposing additional training can earn a maximum of 95 points.
All applicants have the opportunity to earn priority consideration points beyond the 95/100-point total based on the inclusion of designated Opportunity Zones in the application. Awarding of 2 priority consideration bonus points is possible if the applicant has at least one census tract in their service area designated by the Secretary of Treasury as a qualified opportunity zone. Note that applicants will not receive additional bonus points for more than one opportunity zone in their service area. For more information on opportunity zones, go to: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/opportunity-zones-frequently-asked-questions.