A small, alternative school, YouthBuild PCS offers 16- to 24-year olds who have dropped out, aged out, or been expelled from traditional high schools, a unique second chance. In an intimate, supportive environment, students take classes in English or Spanish, earn a GED, acquire the skills to be successful in college or the workplace, and navigate the transition to adulthood. And this is no mean feat: 100% are low-income; roughly 30% qualify for special education; approximately 25% are experiencing homelessness; 20% are parents themselves; another third speak little or no English; and most begin with extremely low math and reading skills. Students alternate between the classroom, construction site (building affordable housing units), and service learning opportunities (creating community gardens and cleaning up local rivers). Young people who often feel that they have nothing to offer leave YouthBuild PCS with a different perspective: “I built that,” they say. They have built even more.
The academic program is fully virtual at present. New students participate in one day of in-person orientation to ensure that they're able to use their Chromebooks and successfully access their student email and learning platforms before they begin connecting from home. If they are comfortable, they also have the option to come in-person during their construction rotation. Chromebooks have been provided for all students who need them.