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The mission of Portland YouthBuilders is to support young men and women between 17 and 24 who are committed to changing their lives to become self-sufficient, contributing members of the workforce and their community by:
- Providing classroom-based education and vocational training, leading to a high school diploma or GED;
- Assisting students to develop marketable employment skills by participating in a PYB supervised workplace;
- Challenging students to develop their leadership skills and talents through community service;
- Providing support to graduates.
For almost 20 years, PYB has worked to move young people out of poverty.
In 1993, a 22-member coalition came together to create a YouthBuild program in Portland to provide educational and leadership opportunities for very low income youth who had dropped out of high school. Coalition members represented youth-serving agencies, Portland Public Schools, non-profit organizations, community residents, and local foundations. As a result of this effort, a YouthBuild Planning Grant was awarded from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and in February 1995, Portland YouthBuilders (PYB) was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization.
The PYB program, which includes a first year of full-tme programming and multi-year graduate support, serves 200 low income young men and women who are committed to changing their lives to become self-sufficient, contributing members of the workforce and their community. PYB serves young people who face multiple and serious barriers to academic achievement and career success. One-hundred percent of young people entering PYB have been referred by their high school counselors or have already dropped out of high school. The great majority of students have dropped out or been expelled multiple times. All students have incomes at or below 50% of median income. Over 80% of PYB students have histories of substance abuse; and over 50% have had contact with the criminal justice system; 25% are custodial parents.
Through academics, vocational training, counseling, and personal development, PYB strives to provide students with the hard and soft skills necessary to reach their educational and career goals. Our objective is to maximize students’ time at PYB through rigorous curricula aligned with postsecondary educational expectations, vocational training and experience aligned with real workforce standards, and leadership and personal development experience designed to strengthen students’ professional habits and personal stability and growth.
PYB has been recognized for the quality of our programs serving a highly diverse student body, including:
PYB is again in 2013 on the list of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon (Oregon Business magazine) and was a finalist for the 2013 Oregon Ethics in Business Awards (Rotary Club).
In 2012 the Allen Foundation named PYB as one of 4 recipients of its inaugural Creative Leadership Award, which "salutes future-focused thinking and adept work by individuals and community organizations."
In 2012, PYB was recognized as having the highest performance outcomes among YouthBuild programs; and Jill Walters, PYB’s executive director, was named "Director of the Year" by YouthBuild USA.
In 2010 PYB was approved as one of only 3 training sites by the Department of Labor to provide training to YouthBuild programs receiving DOL funding. PYB has assisted programs in Bend, Corvallis, Seattle, Flint, Denver, and San Diego.
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