Free YouthBuild construction training helps youth into careers, lucrative futures


Ten new $17,400 student scholarships are available through June for the YouthBuild Construction Training Program, hosted by Goodwill in Tacoma. These full scholarships make the YouthBuild program free to low-income youth (18-24 years). The program builds young lives and careers, constructs affordable homes and is a win-win for unemployed and homeless youth, the construction industry and the economy.
During the six-month YouthBuild Tacoma program, Goodwill and Tacoma-Pierce County Habitat for Humanity work with low-income young adults to build careers and young lives. The students learn how to build or rehabilitate quality homes for low income families, learn community service and civic engagement, earn their GED if needed or further their post-secondary education. Tailored around individual student needs, the program also features life, leadership and organizational skills, important construction and industry recognized certifications, and financial incentives in a safe, supportive environment.

YouthBuild construction trainer Caitie Geoghegan at work with a student.

One answer to a skilled labor shortage

YouthBuild Tacoma students are also graduating from the program into a construction industry job market that is facing a skilled labor shortage. As baby boomers retire, fewer young people are entering the career field, preferring desk jobs over craftsmen occupations. Demand for a skilled workforce is producing $20-$25 an hour. entry-level positions with opportunities for rapid advancement.
“In order for us to complete the most ambitious transit expansion program in the country we need a skilled workforce,” said Peter Rogoff, Sound Transit CEO.
“Goodwill’s YouthBuild Construction Program ensures that young people across our region will have the skills they need to get well-paying careers in the construction trades. Investing in Youthbuild is an investment in the economic success of our region.”
This is especially true here in Washington, which offers an excellent future in the construction trades thanks to sustainable budgets for transportation construction that will last for 20 years. To keep pace there needs to be a focused effort to attract people to the industry, to be part of rebuilding and expanding our infrastructure to support growth across all sectors of commerce and industry. Construction provides a well-paying, great career, even for those just graduating high school, with many opportunities and results that you can physically see. It’s one of the few remaining jobs where you can actually shape the world around you for the better and leave a lasting impression on society.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff helped dedicate the construction lab that Sound Transit donated to the program
Credit: Goodwill

Special June enrollment openings (Tacoma)

Through June, Goodwill in Tacoma is accepting up to 10 new students to join the current class. Interested students can contact Michaela Woodmansee, YouthBuild Coordinator at Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region, at (253) 254-4959. Candidates must be between 18-24 years & other requirements apply:
Seattle and Thurston County also have YouthBuild programs with varying schedules. In Seattle, contact or (206) 724-0965 for more information. Thurston County’s YouthBuild Program is available at (360) 701-6593 or

Program started 41 years ago in Harlem (March 1978)

YouthBuild grew out of the Youth Action Program, which grew out of the East Harlem Block Schools. Dorothy Stoneman, a founding force in the youth movement, stated in 1978… “I had decided that the most important immediate thing I could do in the world was mobilize teenagers to become a positive force in their communities. The presence of hundreds of thousands of teenagers who were dropping out of school, dying or wasting their lives on the streets, appeared to me as a sin of society, a waste of a most precious resource.”
Today, there are 260 YouthBuild programs throughout the United States and 100 programs in 22 other countries. “Our global network of YouthBuild programs is enabling unemployed and out-of-school young people the opportunity to rebuild their communities and their lives,” said John Valverde, CEO of YouthBuild USA. “To date, 179,000 YouthBuild students worldwide have built over 35,000 units of affordable housing and other community assets such as community centers and schools. We are deeply grateful for the strong impact we have had on our YouthBuild students and graduates over the past 40 years, and we are devoted to the YouthBuild movement of creating pathways for these young leaders of tomorrow in their communities, and beyond.”
A unique multi-partner funding model in Tacoma: with congressional budget support, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration is funding 77 YouthBuild programs in 35 states and the District of Columbia. The Goodwill YouthBuild model in Tacoma is unique as it enhances taxpayer funding with Goodwill thrift sales, private support from Sound Transit, KeyBank, and resources from the Tacoma REACH Center and Habitat for Humanity.


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