YouthBuild provided education, training, and other supportive services to youth with low income who were disconnected from high school and from the workforce. The program's goal was to reengage youth in employment and education.
YouthBuild programs provided four main categories of services: (1) a combination of educational services designed to lead to a high school diploma or an equivalent credential such as a GED; (2) vocational training in construction or another in-demand industry; (3) youth development services focused on leadership training and community service; and (4) supportive services to help individuals participate in training and employment, including case management, workforce preparation, life skills training, counseling, and stipends for participation. The YouthBuild model is designed to allow variation based on program and community contexts. As of 2020, YouthBuild continues to offer similar services to eligible participants.
Programs had screening processes that included assessments such as basic skills tests and interviews. As part of the screening process, each program administered a Mental Toughness Orientation to youth were selected for the program, which lasted an average of 10 days and was designed to assess applicants' motivation and willingness to change. Random assignment could occur before, during, or after the orientation, depending on the program. Most programs lasted a total of 6 to 12 months. YouthBuild focused on youth ages 16 to 24 who are disconnected, meaning they had dropped out of high school and were either from a low-income or migrant family, were in foster care, had disabilities, had justice system involvement, or had parents who were incarcerated. The program was implemented in 75 local programs within 29 U.S. states, DC, and the Virgin Islands.