Our friends at YouthBuild must be feeling pretty good. And they deserve to.
I can't think of another program that embodies so well what the green economy, at its best, can be: good for communities, good for the planet, and good for people who have been undervalued and ignored for far too long.
YouthBuild works with young people who have dropped out of high school – kids without lots of opportunities and without lots of people believing they'll succeed. These youth learn to build energy efficient homes for low-income families, and earn their GEDs at the same time.
The program started 30 years ago, with youth in East Harlem rebuilding abandoned homes that had been claimed by drug dealers, and giving them to homeless families instead.
It has since spread across the country, with 8,000 young people
participating each year. And YouthBuild is going green: by 2013, at least 75% of the homes they build will be green.
But that's not the only reason they should be feeling good...
YouthBuild is now seeing major expansion – thanks to President Obama's commitment to creating green jobs. The Economic Recovery Package directs $50 million to YouthBuild. And the President's proposed budget for 2010 would expand the program's reach from 8,000 to 50,000 young people each year.
On Tuesday March 17th, 100 youth from the program met with First Lady Michelle Obama, after building a green house on the national mall – drawing key media attention to their work.
Youth Build is helping to redefine how we understand "service". As Michelle Obama said on the mall on Tuesday–service is not "just an escape for the wealthy." It can the first step on a pathway out of poverty and the first rung on a green career ladder.
Now is the time to redefine a lot of things. And as we move towards a rebuilding our economy – let's use Youth Build as a shining example.
It is the type of program that ought to be brought to scale across the country – In every community where a family is worried about affording a home, every neighborhood where young folks struggle to find opportunity and meaning.More About YouthBuild
- Hufffington Post: Michelle Obama Promotes National Service, Visits With YouthBuild
- GetEnergySmartNow.Com: Michelle on the Mall: Good People doing Good Things for Good Reasons
YouthBuild's Web Site
VIDEO: 9/27/08 La Causa/YouthBuild and Green For All join together in Los Angeles for the Green Jobs Now National Day of Action: