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YouthBuild-North Shore Has a Successful First Year in Salem

November 4th, 2013 by Mickey Northcutt

The North Shore Community Development Coalition (CDC) invests in neighborhoods to create thriving communities.  The organization was founded in 2011 as a collaborative effort between two community-based organizations in Beverly and Salem.  After 30+ years of dedication to the Salem community, North Shore CDC redoubled its commitment to improve the quality of life for low-income people in Salem.  In addition to affordable housing and commercial real estate development and preservation, North Shore CDC has long had a commitment to community and civic engagement, leadership development and various neighborhood-based programs.  In Salem, we operate a free English-as-a-Second-Language program serving primarily new immigrants, a low-cost homeownership training program for first-time homebuyers and our Family Stability program, an effort to connect low-income people to existing services and education programs to advance their economic self-sufficiency.

In 2010, one of our first efforts as a newly-minted organization was to do a thorough community survey, particularly targeting the Point neighborhood in Salem.  We wanted our work to be guided by the needs and priorities of the community.  We heard loud and clear that the community wanted more opportunities for teenagers and young adults, and specifically for opportunities to connect young people with the skills they need to enter the workforce.  That summer, we ran a pilot program that hired local teenagers to work on neighborhood improvement projects.  That program was so well received that we looked to other models to expand our youth program year-round and to serve a greater number of young people.  This search quickly led us to YouthBuild.

YouthBuild-North Shore was affiliated with YouthBuild-USA, a national network of programs, in early 2013.  YouthBuild is a national model focused on workforce development and academic opportunity for low-income young people.  YouthBuild-North Shore empowers young adults in Salem with the competency and desire to transform their lives and improve their communities through education, employment and leadership development.

YouthBuild-North Shore is hosted by North Shore CDC and administered jointly as a partnership between North Shore CDC and the Salem Community Charter School (SCCS).  SCCS is a Horace-Mann Charter High School within Salem Public Schools that offers students who have previously struggled in traditional school settings to restart their quest for a high school diploma.  Together, we employ young people ages 16-24 enrolled in a diploma program at SCCS.  YouthBuild students are a remarkably talented and dedicated group of people:  all have made the choice to return to school after having dropped out of Salem High School, most come from low-income families and many struggle with mental and/or physical disabilities. 

Our YouthBuild crew works on affordable housing development and neighborhood revitalization projects and get paid for their work hours.  Mixed in with leadership development programming are courses on construction management, various technical certifications, job shadowing and supervised hands-on work in the form of a paid internship.  Over the past year, sample projects include:

  • Renovation of an affordable housing unit in the Point neighborhood, vastly improving the quality of life for a low-income family
  • Planning and execution of a trash barrel pilot program, working with local businesses and city officials to establish a trash removal program
  • Gut-rehabilitation of an expanded YouthBuild program space and North Shore CDC office space on Lafayette Street in Salem

Critical to YouthBuild’s success are partnerships in our community which have embraced the program.  From a mentoring program with the Salem Rotary Club, to workforce training workshops with the North Shore Career Center, to service projects with Windover Construction and the Salem Garden Club, the support of the community has been truly remarkable, enriching the program and connecting YouthBuild students to the broader community.  We invite the Salem community to become involved in YouthBuild-North Shore by getting in touch with North Shore CDC.  Volunteers that know construction skills and are willing to teach a skill during class time at 2:15-3:15pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays or in the workshop on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:30-5pm are particularly welcomed.

For more information on North Shore CDC or YouthBuild-North Shore, please visit us at www.northshorecdc.org

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