COLUMBUS, OHIO (December 12, 2018) — YouthBuild Columbus Community School, an Oakmont Education dropout recovery school, utilized its construction program, federal grant money and donations to aid in community development and help one Stambaugh-Elwood resident build a new home.
YouthBuild Columbus offers opportunity youth, individuals aged 16–24 and not currently enrolled in school or employed, the chance to earn a high school diploma while also working toward nationally recognized industry credentials. When a YouthBuild Columbus board member referred the school to a veteran living in an abandoned Stambaugh-Elwood home, the school decided to take on the renovation project as a core learning opportunity for its construction students.
“For students who aren’t going to college, it gives them a way to transfer directly into a career,” said David King, the YouthBuild Columbus teacher who headed the project. The renovation, which took a year and a half, gave students the opportunity to hone a full range of construction skills: demolition, framing, drywall, flooring, fixtures, landscaping and more.
Most of the students on the project had never used the required tools before and relied on King to mentor them through the process. LeAndre Bryant, a YouthBuild Columbus student and project participant, explained, “With each step, [King] walked us through it. He was real hands on and let us do it. We got to build the house, instead of just watching.”
Stambaugh-Elwood Neighborhood Association President Tim Brown is pleased with the impact the project has had on both the community and the students. He said, “I came by every other day just to watch the transformation and just the kids’ expressions while they were doing it. They felt like they were contributing to help somebody, and this is the result of that help. That’s a wonderful thing.”
Derek Adams, another YouthBuild Columbus student who worked on the renovation, agreed with that assessment: “I could understand what he [the homeowner] was going through, so for me to come and help make him a better house? You just don’t get a better feeling than that.”
YouthBuild Columbus is part of YouthBuild USA, a nationwide effort with more than 6,000 youth participants in 40 states. The program is funded by the Department of Labor, with all six Ohio-based YouthBuild organizations receiving between $1 and $1.1 million for two years. This federal grant money is designated to support educational and vocational training for opportunity youth in underserved communities. YouthBuild Columbus currently has approximately 40 students enrolled.