YouthBuild Santa Rosa

Youth building affordable housing while building their lives.

Collaborative Partners:

Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, YouthBuild USA, John Muir Charter Academy, Burbank Housing Development Corporation and the Department of Urban Housing and Development

This project was funded (in part,as applicable) by a grant awarded under the YouthBuild Grant Initiative, as implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration.

YouthBuild Santa Rosa provides mentoring, educational and vocational training as well as skill development in leadership, communication, problem-solving and goal-setting to low income youth in Sonoma County.

Background: Public Schools in Sonoma County, California, and Nationally are under tremendous pressure to produce test score improvements. Due to their limited resources too often this means that youth who do not learn well in traditional classroom environments become disenchanted with school and frequently disengage from society in general.

High School drop-outs present a tremendous challenge to society. They are at much higher risk for prison, poverty, early pregnancy and homelessness. The long-term cost of supporting these youth is borne by each of us. YouthBuild is a unique opportunity to address youth problems with the best methods of human service agencies in a wraparound program which also benefits the community.

Goal: This year YouthBuild Santa Rosa will provide 20-50 youth age 16-24 who are undereducated and unemployed with a chance to complete their diplomas, learn construction skills, and overcome barriers that are keeping them down, while building affordable housing.

The Facility: Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County rents a “store front” school room in a strip mall on Sebastopol Road between Goodwill and an empty grocery store. In the building we have a construction lab, a classroom, a computer lab, and several counseling and small group activity areas.

The Population: As of November 2005 YouthBuild Santa Rosa has 17 enrollees. Two are parents, three are young women, the remainder are young men. All are between 16-24 and have not completed their High School diplomas. Another seven young people half have completed the construction component and are working at finishing their education and holding down jobs in the community.

Many of our youth have been involved in the criminal justice system; almost all are from low or very low-income families. Many of our youth are actively involved in gangs and the street life.

The Program: In 1986 Dorothy Stoneman was living and working in New York City, she conceived the idea that a need existed to address neighborhood problems at the same time the she was addressing youth problems (A realization that CAP came to several years ago as well). Dorothy designed a program called YouthBuild which brought youth from the community together to renovate the dilapidated housing in their neighborhoods while learning job skills. That initial design has spread throughout the USA, and there are now almost 200 YouthBuild sites in the United States.

YouthBuild Santa Rosa began its first group of trainees in 1995. The program is one of fewer than twenty YouthBuild programs nationally that have passed the YouthBuild accreditation process for our adherence to the highest quality standards in all program elements: Academics, construction, leadership, and counseling.


ìAcademics: YouthBuild Santa Rosa is a partner with the John Muir Charter Academy and through that partnership has a full-time credentialed teacher on site. He has an additional certification in Special Education. Because the youth we serve come to us with a wide variety of successes and failures in school, for each youth the teacher and trainee design an individual set of educational goals. Geared to provide a meaningful and useful education, through our partnership we are able to get students who complete enough credits to earn a High School Diploma.

@Construction/Housing Rehabilitation: YouthBuild Santa Rosa employs a construction manager to oversee all of our construction projects. We are currently building housing in Forestville with our primary partner, Burbank Housing Corp.  YouthBuild trainees have participated in developing over 200 units of affordable housing since 2000 in Sonoma County. In addition, the crews have done numerous renovations and repairs for homeless shelters.

iJob Training: Trainees participate in weekly construction and job readiness lab classes to support sound work habits and decision making skills and to teach trainees how to manage time effectively, develop career plans, and handle job interviews.

"Leadership Development: YouthBuild changes the way young people see themselves.  One of the strongest elements of YouthBuild is a commitment to engaging the youth in creating solutions for their community. From the first two weeks of “mental toughness” throughout the program staff emphasize that youth are responsible for their lives, their families, and their neighborhoods.

OCounseling and Case Management: YouthBuild trainees often have developed multiple barriers to success: drug use, criminal histories, teen parents, and lack of support from their families. In addition, some trainees dropped out of school young because of untreated social barriers and skills. This is where our case management and counseling staff step in to work one-on-one with our trainees. Sometimes it is locating childcare, sometimes arranging for tattoo removal, sometimes getting them into mental health and anger management classes, and on...

Funding Needs: This program is our most expensive program to operate on a per client basis due to the extensive range of services and high level of need among our clients. Virtually all of our youth are very low income, and many are supporting themselves and their children. Our current funding does not allow us to provide a lot of "extras" for trainees. There are a couple of essentials for which we are seeking community support. The first is funding to allow the case manager to bring in specialized training around violence management, financial skills, and other life skills education. The second is funds to allow us to bring back our MFT professional for clinical oversight and to provide targeted one-on-one counseling for some trainees. The final area of need is funding for trainee incentives. In the work environment we are training students while rewarding them for being on time and doing their job. 

Pictured above: Santa Rosa Mayor Mike Martini, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey & County Supervisor Mike Reilly — attending YouthBuild’s new office grand opening in April 2001.

All pictures are of actual clients and staff not clip art.  Please make a request prior to using in any other format.