The YouthBuild Illinois programs enroll low-income youth and young adults 16 to 24 years of age who have dropped out of school and are unemployed and/or have limited job skills. YouthBuild Illinois is a year-long, highly demanding program that prepares youth and young adults for the challenges they will face in today's world. The program offers young people a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build their futures through education, leadership development, and job training in the construction trade. It also offers the opportunity to help build and develop their communities through the rehabilitation and production of affordable housing.

YouthBuild Illinois strives to empower struggling teens and young adults by focusing on achieving academic goals while also helping them to develop the job skills necessary to succeed in the work force. In addition to teaching the skills necessary to build and remodel homes for low-income families, youth are taught the basic skills of how to relate to employees and employers, the importance of reporting to work on time, the ability to follow workplace rules and regulations, and other preparatory skills upon which employment success is contingent.

The YouthBuild Illinois program is administered by local communities. There is no universal model that can be applied to every YouthBuild Illinois program. Although each program is unique in its approach to addressing the needs of the community, all embrace the same basic principles:

  • Youth benefit from the opportunity to join and function in a community;
  • Education comes not only from the classroom but from life skills learned from having to function as a team, maintain a job, manage money and speak effectively with one another;
  • Adults in the program mentor students as they mature; and
  • Each site's unique approach addresses the complexities within their community.

According to the DOL website, the following Illinois providers continue to receive funding from their 2007 grant:

  1. Comprehensive Community Solutions Inc. (Rockford) - $547,500;
  2. Emerson Park Development Corporation (East St Louis) - $550,000;
  3. YouthBuild McLean (Bloomington) - $550,000;
  4. United Methodist Children's Home (Mount Vernon) - $403,041;
  5. Youth Conservation Corps (Waukegan) - $350,000; and
  6. Quad County Urban League Inc. (Aurora) - $550,000.

In 2008 there was one additional Illinois provider receiving YouthBuild funding, the Springfield Urban League, which was awarded a grant for $550,000, bringing the number of DOL-funded agencies in Illinois to eight.

In State Fiscal Year 2009, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) provided grants totaling $262,291 to four YouthBuild Illinois programs serving Bloomington, East St Louis, Rockford and Waukegan.

The four programs are:

  • Comprehensive Community Solutions Inc. (Rockford) - $71,277;
  • Emerson Park Development Corporation (East St Louis) - $71,277;
  • YouthBuild McLean (Bloomington) - $71,277; and
  • Youth Conservation Corps, Inc. (Waukegan) - $48,460.

The Secretary of Human Services was given grant-making authority with the enactment of the YouthBuild Act in 1997. Over the past 10 years, funds have been appropriated to the YouthBuild Illinois program from other IDHS Youth Services Appropriation lines.