Youth Programs

YouthBuild Just A Start

High school education, job skills, and leadership development for youth

“There’s so much help here, and opportunity. Now I have more hope towards what I want to do. I know I have potential, it was just about getting it out of me.”

– Desijah, YouthBuild Just A Start graduate

YouthBuild Just A Start is a full-time comprehensive youth development program that helps young people reclaim their education, gain job skills, and become leaders in their communities.

The program serves students aged 16 to 24, offering youth the opportunity to earn their high school credential and build employment skills in their choice of Construction or Retail. YouthBuild students are also eligible to earn stipends of up to $300 bi-weekly as they pursue their education and work experience.

YouthBuild defines students by their potential, not by their challenges, and we offer comprehensive guidance, counseling, and support services to students. Youth who complete the program transition to employment, training, and/or college, and receive intensive follow-up support for at least one year post-graduation.

YouthBuild Just A Start is a proud affiliate member of the global YouthBuild movement.

You may be eligible for the programs if you:

Are between 16 and 24 years of age

Live in Massachusetts’ MetroNorth region, including the cities of Cambridge, Chelsea, Revere, Winthrop, Medford, Malden, Everett, and Somerville

Left high school before earning your diploma or have already earned your high school diploma, but need support with educational improvement

Have experienced other circumstances that created barriers to finishing school (including youth in foster care, youth offenders, youth with disabilities, children of an incarcerated parent, or member of a low-income family)

If you think you might be eligible or interested in YouthBuild Just A Start, please complete the inquiry form below. We look forward to connecting with you!

How to apply:

For more information, please contact youthbuild@justastart.org or call us at 617-918-7506.

A New Start: Meet a Graduate

“YouthBuild has shown me that I can try to improve myself to be the best not only for me but for others. I haven’t felt so proud of myself until I was a student at YouthBuild because they showed me that I can be better and bigger than the girl that struggled with school all her life and that eventually dropped out. Now I see myself as the girl who overcame her obstacles and challenges to be more than what she was before YouthBuild. During YouthBuild I’ve seen myself with so much potential and wanting to achieve so many things that I wasn’t able to before YouthBuild. YouthBuild believed in me and they believed that I had potential to do so many wonderful things. I just needed to see that for myself, and thanks to YouthBuild I do.”

– K. B., YouthBuild Just A Start graduate

Frequently Asked Questions

YouthBuild’s schedule is made up of 50% education, 40% work experience, and 10% leadership development. The program has an alternating weekly schedule, with half of students in the classroom and half of students on worksites each week. Each day runs from 8:45am – 2:45pm.

We welcome new cohorts of students twice per year, typically in spring and late fall.

During class time, students learn core academic subjects (Math, Reading, Science, Writing, and Social Studies) as well as career readiness, leadership, financial literacy, team building, and life skills.

For work experience, students choose to pursue job training in either Construction or Retail.

During construction work experience weeks, students renovate affordable housing apartments and community spaces. Students learn skills like interior wall framing, drywall installation, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finish carpentry, flooring, and painting.

During Retail / Customer Service worksite weeks, students spend 20-30 hours at their work placement, building real-world experience and getting exposure to different elements of work at different companies. Partner companies include the Daily Table and Old Navy.

Each student’s time in YouthBuild Just A Start will depend on their own educational and support needs. Most students spend an average of 9 months in the program, but can spend up to one year actively enrolled at YouthBuild. All graduates have access to comprehensive follow-up support for at least one year after completing the program.

Every student has the opportunity to earn nationally-recognized certificates including:

  • HiSET secondary education credential
  • Retail Industry Fundamentals Credential through the National Retail Federation
  • HBI-PACT (Home Builders Institute Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training)
  • OSHA-10
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