The opioid epidemic has made YouthBuild Dayton’s services more critical to the community than ever, says Program Director Jerry Farley. "Many underresourced young adults have to step up because a parent is absent or can’t care for the family because of drug addiction. In many cases, they don’t have access to food, they have to be providers of care, or they need to help pay for the family’s utilities,” he says.
During Memorial Day weekend in 2019, 15 tornadoes touched down, with the largest one hitting Trotwood, Riverside, and Dayton, Ohio, causing devastating damage to neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are where YouthBuild Dayton draws most of its participants from, compounding the difficulties faced by many local youth.
To help youth improve lives, each year YouthBuild Dayton works with about 40 individuals, 17 to 24 years old, who are motivated to change. The organization helps them complete their high school diploma or get a high school equivalency certificate, and they earn industry-recognized credentials in construction or health care, while gaining both paid and volunteer experience. For example, this fall, students in the construction program began repairs on homes impacted by the tornado.
Skills to succeed
For some, YouthBuild Dayton is their last chance, says Vice President of Housing at County Corp Adam Blake, who has managed the YouthBuild Dayton grant since 2012.
“I view this program as the last opportunity for young people who aren’t necessarily connected to school or a career,” he says. “It provides leadership and training to help make them positive contributors to the community they live in.”
It also teaches soft skills such as accountability, responsibility, and conflict management.
“Learning how to deal with conflict at work when your boss is yelling at you is a soft skill that you need to be successful,” Blake says.
Farley shares a few successes of last year’s YouthBuild Dayton group:
- 79 percent of participants got a job or went on to college.
- Overall attendance was 82 percent; comparable dropout recovery school attendance is about 40 percent.
- Typically, students’ reading and math skills increase at least two grade levels.
- 92 to 96 percent of graduates retain their jobs for at least a year after they leave the program.
Over the years, Huntington has provided financial education for program participants, as well as monetary support to supplement the organization’s restricted Department of Labor grant. Huntington’s support funds things such as bus tokens or scrubs and helps participants stay focused so they can complete their education or earn a credential, Farley says.
“Some of our youth don’t have washers and dryers, so having four sets of scrubs instead of two means they don’t have to wear dirty clothes to volunteer,” he says.
About the organization
Name: County Corp-YouthBuild Dayton
City: Greater Miami Valley
Phone: (937) 531-6928
Mission: To provide opportunity to youth with access to education and training to be workforce ready. Our participants gain valuable experience by practicing their craft through volunteering in the community.
How you can help
Contact County Corp to donate funds or become an academic tutor, mentor, or teacher’s aide for the construction or health care programs.