Archive for July, 2010

Graduation Day for YouthBuild Newark Class of 2010

PHOTO BY AKINTOLA HANIF

YouthBuild Newark’s commencement ceremony yesterday was filled with testimonials from students who, in the words of graduate Ebony, have become better versions of themselves.

“I would not say that I’m a new person, but I’m an improved person,” declared Ebony, one of three students to share her “story of transformation.”

“I’ve learned to trust people…I have faith in myself and I believe in myself,” she said. “I never would have guessed in a million years that I would be getting my high school diploma today.”

Transformation, both personal and collective, is an essential part of YouthBuild Newark’s mission. Since the organization was founded in 2003, students have inspired others with their narratives of hope and possibility. Yesterday, they also sang, read poetry and performed a rap song.
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YouthBuild Newark receives more than $400,000 in Federal Recovery Act funds

YouthBuild Newark students will be put to work with funding from President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. PHOTO BY AKINTOLA HANIF

YouthBuild Newark was one of four New Jersey YouthBuild programs to receive a total of $1.6 million under President Obama’s stimulus package, which was signed into law in February.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) announced that the Department of Labor (DOL) would award the funds as part of Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, designed to help create jobs during the recession.

“The YouthBuild program provides young adults in New Jersey with the opportunity to further improve their education while learning valuable job skills and providing meaningful services in their neighborhoods,” Lautenberg stated in a press release from his office.

YouthBuild Newark received $412,500 under the program. Isle Inc. in Trenton also received that amount. Two organizations that run YouthBuild programs received $400,000: New Jersey Community Development Corporation in Paterson and the Housing Authority of the City of Camden.

For more information, read the press release on Launterberg’s website here.

YouthBuild Newark students featured in Star-Ledger’s Newark Live

YouthBuild Newark student Carlos is ready for graduation. PHOTO BY AKINTOLA HANIF.

YouthBuild Newark’s soon-to-be graduates and alumni had a chance to share their stories in Newark Live, a weekly pull-out section of The Star-Ledger. You can find the story here.

The students who were profiled have faced many obstacles. Jamillah, a graduate and administrative intern at YouthBuild Newark, resorted to dealing drugs to take care of her young children. Carlos dropped out of school to work for his dad, but wasted his time partying. Juan, who grew up in foster care, joined a gang and was locked up for stealing cars.

But they all completed the YouthBuild Newark program and found some stability. They have been taking college courses or planning to enroll. A key to their success has been the relationships formed with staff and classmates, who’ll be there for them even after they graduate.