BlogCommunity Impact

Celebrating Freedom: Juneteenth and Empowerment at YBLC

YouthBuild Lake County (YBLC) is proud to commemorate Juneteenth and highlight the educational and vocational freedoms that our programs provide to the underserved People of Color within Lake County. Although today celebrates the freeing of the final slaves, there are still many barriers African Americans face. YBLC continues to address those barriers Lake County and neighboring communities to create a more equitable future for all.


Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, commemorates a pivotal moment in American history and the African American experience. According to Mary Elliott, Curator of American Slavery at The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, “On that day, the Union Army made its way into Galveston, Texas under the leadership of General Gordon Granger, and he announced to the people of Texas that all enslaved African Americans were free.

Kelly E. Navies, Museum Specialist of Oral History at the same museum, has a less literal interpretation of the day: 

“I like to think of Juneteenth as a celebration of freedom, of family, and of joy that emerged from this cauldron of the war. After hundreds of years of enslavement, and the intense post-Civil War era, all of these emotions and feelings had built up to a particular point… It was such a difficult time, but there was a refusal to be held down by the past and a determination to move forward… At its very core, Juneteenth is this affirmation that we are here, and we will continue to be here. We will continue to struggle in the face of many challenges.”


At YouthBuild Lake County, we hold the spirit of Juneteenth in the same way that Navies sums up so beautifully. Her description of Juneteenth mirrors the same beliefs that drive the form of freedom that YBLC has continued to bring to underserved young adults within Lake County for over two decades —the freedom to shape one’s own future. Our participants, primarily young People of Color, have overcome tremendous barriers across numerous fronts just to get to the point of even applying to YBLC. We are dedicated to empowering these young adults through education, vocational training, and comprehensive support services so that they are able to build a better future for themselves, their families and children, and their communities at large.


We believe in empowering young adults with the freedom to choose their own futures through comprehensive educational and vocational programs. Educational and vocational freedom is something many take for granted—choosing your college, picking a major, and applying to careers you are passionate about are freedoms that are not always accessible to everyone. By providing diverse opportunities for learning and skill development, we ensure that our participants, who may not have had these choices before, can pursue careers that truly align with their interests and aspirations.  At YBLC we provide:

High School Diploma Program:
Ensuring that every participant has the opportunity to complete their education and open doors to higher learning and better job prospects.

Vocational Training:
Offering hands-on training in fields such as construction, healthcare, and transportation, allowing participants to develop  skills and pursue careers in industries of their choice.

Career Development:
Providing job readiness training, resume workshops, and interview preparation to equip participants with the tools they need to succeed in the workforce.

The skills learned and credentials earned during these programs give our participants the autonomy to make informed decisions about their futures, breaking free from the constraints of limited opportunities and societal expectations. After graduating from YBLC, many of our participants have gone on to pursue careers in fields they are genuinely passionate about, including HVAC, Real Estate, Carpentry, and other diverse industries.


True freedom extends beyond physical and educational empowerment—it also encompasses mental and emotional well-being. At YBLC, we recognize that mental health is a crucial aspect of personal growth and success. Many of our participants face significant stress and trauma, which can impede their progress and potential. By addressing these mental health needs, we help them achieve a level of freedom from the mental burdens that often block growth and success.

  1. Counseling Services: Professional counseling to help participants navigate personal challenges, cope with trauma, and build resilience.
  2. Mental Health and Wellness Programs: Workshops and activities focused on mental wellness, stress management, and self-care.
  3. Substance Abuse Counseling: Support for those struggling with addiction, providing a path to recovery and a healthier lifestyle.

By offering these services, YBLC helps participants free themselves from the mental burdens that often block growth and hinder progress. We believe that addressing these issues is crucial for personal development and achieving long-term success.


During an interview conducted by Ta-Nehisi Coates, esteemed author and reporter, Barack Obama asked:

“How do we in the African American community build a culture in which we are saying to our kids, ‘Here's what it takes to succeed. Here's the sacrifices you need to make to be able to get ahead. Here's how we support each other. Here's how we look out for each other.’"

Our mission at YBLC is driven by a desire to break the cycle of poverty and replace it with the community the former President describes above. The overwhelming majority of our participants come from low-income backgrounds and face significant barriers to success. By offering education, career training, and staff and networks to support them, we aim to open doors to new opportunities to help our participants build better futures for themselves and their families.

We are committed to fostering equity and inclusion, addressing the unique challenges faced by People of Color, and working towards a more just and inclusive society. Our work benefits not only individual participants but also the broader community that we all call home. In the words of another former politician, Tom Vilsack,

“People working together in a strong community with a shared goal and a common purpose can make the impossible possible.”

Help YBLC Build A Stronger Community

Like Vilsack said, when people work together with a common purpose, anything is possible. By donating to YBLC, you are championing change for the underserved young adults within Lake County, pushing the entire community forward.


Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and a reminder of the enduring fight for equality. At YouthBuild Lake County, we honor this legacy by providing young adults with the education, training, and support they need to achieve their own forms of freedom. Through our comprehensive programs and services, we help our participants break free from the constraints of limited opportunities and mental burdens, empowering them to shape their own futures and build better lives.

As we commemorate Juneteenth, we celebrate the strides we have made and renew our commitment to creating a world where every individual has the freedom to reach their full potential. At YBLC, we continue the struggle for freedom and justice by empowering marginalized communities and advocating for systemic change. Together, with a strong community of participants, alumni, and supporters like you, we can make the impossible possible- creating a Lake County free from economic, educational, and vocational burdens!

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    What is YBLC’s Success Ceremony? 6 Ways It’s Different Than a Graduation

    Graduations are a well-known milestone, marking the completion of an educational journey and the beginning of new opportunities. However, at YouthBuild Lake County (YBLC), we celebrate our participants’ achievements with a unique event called the Success Ceremony. This ceremony goes beyond the traditional concept of graduation, highlighting the diverse accomplishments and personal growth of our participants.

    In honor of tomorrow’s event, here are six ways our Success Ceremony stands out from a typical graduation.

    1. Celebrating Comprehensive Achievements

    YouthBuild Lake County’s Success Ceremony celebrates a wide array of accomplishments beyond earning a high school diploma. It signifies participants’ success in making positive life changes, pushing themselves outside their comfort zones, and committing to a program that enhances their communication and leadership skills. This holistic approach recognizes the full spectrum of personal and professional development that our participants undergo, not just education.

    2. YBLC's Multiple Programs

    Although YBLC has always held Success Ceremonies instead of “graduations”, this has become particularly important in more recent years. In 2022, YBLC began our Pre-apprentice program, which is offered to individuals in Lake County who are 18 years and older and already have their high school diploma. This program, funded by Illinois Works, was created to help answer the call to Illinois’ growing need for construction workers in the trades. We are also currently developing our Building Maintenance and Repair Apprenticeship program, which will follow a similar requirement structure as the Pre-apprentice program.

    Because this event is not locked into celebrating only high school diplomas, we can continue to celebrate the achievements and successes of our Pre-apprentices and eventually our Apprentices!

    3. Industry-Recognized Credentials

    Our participants don’t just walk away with a diploma; they earn industry-recognized credentials that set them up for success in the workforce. These include CPR and First Aid, which are universally applicable and beneficial on a resume. On the construction side of things, we teach the Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-Hour Training (OSHA-10), which provides essential safety and health information for entry-level workers. They also earn the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) credentials, such as Your Role in the Green Environment and the Core Curriculum, which covers basic safety, construction math, hand tools, power tools, construction drawings, communication skills, employability skills, and material handling.

    4. Commitment to Service

    A significant aspect of the Success Ceremony is celebrating the completion of at least 300 service hours by many of our participants, as part of their enrollment in AmeriCorps. These service hours are often spent building affordable housing for the local community and participating in various service projects that support local nonprofit organizations. This commitment to service not only benefits the community but also instills a sense of purpose and civic responsibility in our participants.

    Although the minimum is 300 service hours, many of our participants go past this to the 450 hour mark, which makes them eligible for a full education Scholarship from AmeriCorps to pursue future education. This hour mark is also recognized at the Success Ceremony, earning participants who went above and beyond with High Honors and a special cord.

    5. Educational Advancement

    Although the Success Ceremony is more comprehensive, it does acknowledge educational achievement as a major step in the pursuit of gainful employment and stability. This can mean college, but it also includes pursuing vocational training. These advancements have included joining a Union apprenticeship to master a construction trade, pursuing a Medical certificate as either a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Medical Assistant (MA), and even attending barber school to gain a non-construction-based trade!

    Whether participants are heading to college or university or entering specialized training programs, this milestone marks their dedication to personal and professional growth. We support our participants in navigating their educational paths, ensuring they have the resources and guidance needed to succeed.

    6. Lifelong Support and Community

    At YouthBuild Lake County, we believe in lifelong support. The Success Ceremony not only marks the end of one journey but also the beginning of another as alumni. We pride ourselves on maintaining strong connections with our graduates, offering continued support and celebrating their ongoing achievements. As we often say, “once YouthBuild, always YouthBuild.”

    One prime example of an alumni connection is Carlton Kindred, who has not only found success since graduating in 2011, but has used it to give back to YouthBuild Lake County. Not only will he be the Keynote Speaker at YBLC’s 2024 Success Ceremony, but he will also be joining YBLC’s Board of Directors at the end of the month. Lastly, he is a very active member of our alumni network!

    Final Thoughts

    YouthBuild Lake County’s Success Ceremony is more than a graduation; it is a testament to our approach to education and workforce development. By recognizing a broad spectrum of achievements—from industry-recognized credentials and significant service hours to immediate workforce entry and educational advancements—we highlight the holistic growth and comprehensive support our program provides. This unique ceremony underscores our commitment to developing well-rounded individuals who are prepared to excel in various professional arenas and contribute meaningfully to their communities.

    As we continue to foster these successes, YBLC hopes to set a benchmark for what it means to truly prepare young adults for the future. Our emphasis on personal development, community service, and continuous support helps prepare participants for more than success in the form of employment- it seeks to prepare them to build better futures for themselves, their families, and their community. We are dedicated to not only transforming lives but also driving community growth and empowerment. By celebrating these diverse successes, we reinforce our mission to build better futures and exemplify how comprehensive support can lead to lasting, positive change.


    If you want to join in and watch YBLC’s 2024 Success Ceremony, make sure to follow our Facebook! We Live stream the entire event so families, friends, and community supporters can be a part of this milestone event. If you want to be there (virtually), click the button below and follow our Facebook- the livestream starts at 6PM on June 11, 2024.


    May 2024 Newsletter

    BlogWorkforce Development

    Partnering for Success: How YBLC & Businesses Work Together

    YouthBuild Lake County (YBLC) thrives on the power of partnership. Our collaboration with local businesses is a cornerstone of our mission to empower young adults and strengthen the community. By working together, we create meaningful opportunities for our participants, equipping them with both the soft and hard skills needed to succeed in today’s job market.


    At YBLC, we believe that the strength of our community lies in the power of partnership. Our mission to empower young adults through education, training, and employment opportunities is significantly enhanced by the robust collaborations we have with local businesses. These partnerships are not just beneficial—they are essential. They create a dynamic environment where both our participants and local employers thrive, driving economic growth and community development.

    The heart of our program is rooted in the belief that real-world experience, guided by industry professionals, is critical for our participants success. By working closely with local businesses, we ensure that our trainees receive relevant hands-on experience and mentorship in their chosen fields. This collaborative approach equips our young adults with both the hard and soft skills they need to succeed, while also addressing the pressing need for skilled workers in various industries. It’s a win-win situation: our participants gain meaningful employment opportunities, and employers benefit from a motivated, well-prepared workforce.



    YBLC recognizes that preparing young adults for the workforce requires more than just technical training. Our programs emphasize the development of soft skills, which are crucial for long-term career success. Through mock interviews, volunteers from various companies across several industries help our participants prepare for their first real job interviews. These sessions include simulated questions and constructive feedback, providing invaluable practice in a supportive environment.


    Additionally, PGIM hosts Communications Workshops tailored to modern job market demands. These workshops cover essential interview communication skills such as maintaining eye contact and speaking clearly. They also address the evolving nature of digital interviews, offering advice on how to conduct yourself during Zoom calls, including tips on appropriate backgrounds and environments. This comprehensive preparation ensures our participants are confident and ready to make a positive impression on potential employers.


    Hard skills are equally important, and YBLC collaborates with local businesses to offer three-week work experiences that give participants a chance to gain hands-on experience in their chosen industries. These work experiences are not only a cornerstone of YouthBuild Lake County’s program, but serve as the most direct way for local companies to partner and impact participants’ futures. 

    Work Experiences are not limited to construction, either. While construction is YBLC’s primary focus, our Career Access team works hard to build new bridges for individuals who fall outside this industry. 

    Participants who are interested in real estate might shadow agents during open houses and closings. Aspiring healthcare workers can assist in private medical offices around the county, gaining hard-to-reach experience with patient care. Meanwhile, participants with a passion for construction apply their training on residential and industrial sites, directly utilizing the skills they’ve learned at YBLC. 

    A great example is Emilio, pictured, who came to YBLC with an interest in starting a career in the automotive industry but did not know where to start. Emilio completed his 3-week work experience with Certified Auto Body, where he learned skills underneath seasoned industry professionals. Emilio made an impact and was hired full-time as a Collision Repair Specialist last month. 

    Emilio is not the first participant to be hired out of a work experience; they often lead to permanent job opportunities. Many employer partners, impressed by the dedication and capability of YBLC participants, go on to hire them after they graduate. Steve Blinderman, CEO of Blinderman Construction, attests to this: “Blinderman Construction has been an enthusiastic Employer-Partner of YouthBuild Lake County for many years. We have found our YBLC hires to be grateful for the opportunity and highly motivated. Seeing them become part of our permanent crew is our ultimate reward. The benefit to these young adults is profound.”



    SSo we have explained why YBLC partners with employers, but why do businesses choose to partner with YBLC? The answer lies in the symbiotic relationship that benefits the participants, the business, and the community as a whole.

    For employers, by investing in the development of local youth, they are cultivating a pipeline of skilled, eager-to-work individuals. These young adults are more than employees; they are future leaders who bring fresh perspectives and a strong work ethic to the workplace. This investment also fosters a sense of corporate social responsibility, enhancing the company’s reputation within the community.

    Furthermore, the community at large benefits from these partnerships. As more young adults secure stable employment, local economies strengthen, and social issues such as unemployment and crime rates decrease. The ripple effect of these positive outcomes extends far beyond the individual participants, contributing to a more vibrant and prosperous community.


    Whether you are interested in volunteering to join the next mock interview or becoming a full-on employer partner who hosts YBLC participants for Work Experiences, YBLC is always interested in adding new partners to our constantly growing network of like-minded individuals seeking to better Lake County. Join us in our mission to empower young adults and create a brighter future for our community.


    Bridging the Gap: The Role of Education in Reducing Economic Inequality

    Economic inequality is an issue that affects communities across the United States. At YouthBuild Lake County (YBLC), we believe that education is one of the most powerful tools to address this challenge. By providing equitable access to educational opportunities, we can help bridge the gap and create pathways to economic mobility for underprivileged individuals.


    Economic inequality refers to the unequal distribution of wealth, income, and resources within a community. This can result in significant disparities in living standards, access to opportunities, and overall quality of life. In the context of YBLC’s participants, economic inequality manifests in several key ways:

    Access to Education: The majority of YBLC participants come from low-income backgrounds and face various obstacles in obtaining a high school diploma, such as transportation issues, individualized needs within the classroom, and financial constraints. Without this critical educational milestone, individuals experience higher unemployment rates and lower earning potential, which hampers their ability to achieve economic stability.

    Employment Opportunities: Economic inequality limits the job opportunities available to YBLC participants. Without the necessary education and vocational training, many young adults find themselves stuck in low-wage jobs with little room for advancement. This lack of economic mobility prevents them from improving their financial situation and escaping poverty.

    Supportive Services: Economic inequality also affects access to essential supportive services such as healthcare, mental health counseling, childcare, and transportation. Many YBLC participants face barriers that hinder their ability to participate fully in educational and vocational programs. For example, the inability to afford childcare or transportation can prevent individuals from attending classes or training sessions, further limiting their opportunities for economic advancement.


    Having a high school diploma significantly impacts an individual’s economic prospects. According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals without a high school diploma have higher unemployment rates and lower median weekly earnings compared to those with a diploma. In 2020, the unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma was 11.7%, while it was 9.0% for high school graduates. Moreover, high school graduates earned a median weekly income of $781, compared to $619 for those without a diploma. This disparity highlights the importance of completing high school as a critical step towards economic stability and upward mobility.

    Despite the importance of education, access to quality education is not evenly distributed. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that students in low-income communities often attend schools with fewer resources, less experienced teachers, and lower graduation rates. These educational disparities continue cycles of poverty, as students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to receive the support and opportunities needed to succeed academically and economically. Addressing these inequalities is essential to creating a more just and equitable society.


    At YBLC, we are committed to leveling the playing field by offering alternative education pathways that cater to the needs of young adults who have struggled in traditional educational settings. Our programs are designed to provide participants with a supportive and inclusive learning environment, enabling them to achieve their academic and career goals.


    We offer an accredited high school diploma through Penn Foster, allowing our participants to work at their own pace and providing our education staff with the flexibility to offer individualized support. This approach ensures that each participant receives the attention and resources needed for their academic success. Participants can also transfer in credits from their previous high school, accelerating their path to graduation and making the transition smoother.


    In addition to academic programs, we offer vocational training that equips participants with practical skills in fields such as construction, healthcare, and automotive. These programs provide hands-on experience and industry-recognized certifications, making our participants more competitive in the job market.

    We also give participants the opportunity to gain experience in a three-week internships with local employers in their chosen industry. This real-world exposure allows them to jumpstart a career within a field that would normally be inaccessible to them, providing invaluable experience and networking opportunities that can lead to long-term employment.


    YBLC offers personal finance courses to help participants create budgets and manage their finances effectively. These classes provide essential knowledge on financial planning, spending, and saving, empowering individuals to achieve financial stability. By understanding and applying these principles, participants can make informed decisions that positively impact their economic futures.

    Financial literacy is a crucial tool in breaking the cycle of economic inequality. YBLC’s personal finance courses equip participants with the skills needed to manage their money wisely and build a secure financial foundation. This education helps individuals gain control over their finances and work towards long-term economic independence.


    When programs like YBLC and the resources they provide are made available, underserved young adults are given the opportunity to succeed. According to Jobs for Alabama Graduates, the number of benefits to having your diploma are immense.

        • High school graduates are more likely to be employed, make higher taxable income, and aid in job generation.

        • High school graduates earn a national average of $8,000 more annually compared to high school dropouts. 

        • High school graduates are less likely to engage in criminal behavior or require social services.

        • High school graduates have better health and longer life expectancy.

    Beyond the statistics, a real-world example can be found in the words of Marisol, a 2019 YBLC graduate who is now a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at the Lake County Health Department. She reflects, “I think one of the main things that makes me happy is that I got my high school diploma and a few other certifications that can really help me move on in life. I don’t feel like I will be stuck in a job anymore. I have options available to me. I can do things for myself now.”

    Marisol’s story demonstrates the transformative power of education. When given the tools and opportunities to build a resume and the skills to work within the professional world, our participants are gaining access to something many people often take for granted: options. Instead of feeling stuck in a job with no prospect for growth, she is now has the economic freedom that comes with a career– for her and her children.

    We do what we do because we believe that education is the key to unlocking a brighter future. By bridging educational gaps, we are not only helping individuals like Marisol, but also nurturing a community within Lake County that is more economically equitable. Our commitment to education and workforce development positions demonstrates that when we invest in people, we create lasting change that benefits everyone.

    Marisol, graduate of YBLC’s 2019 YouthBuild program. She now works as a CNA and is able to provide for her children.

    BlogCommunity Impact

    Building Communities, One Home at a Time: The Impact of Affordable Housing

    At YouthBuild Lake County (YBLC), we believe that a strong community is built from the ground up—literally. Since our inception, we’ve completed 11 affordable housing units through a mix of renovation and new construction, with a new project on Honore Street set to break ground soon. These homes are more than just buildings; they represent stability, opportunity, and growth for our community.


    Affordable housing is a cornerstone of healthy communities. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there’s a shortage of over 7 million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income households in the U.S. This gap leaves many families struggling to make ends meet, often forced to choose between paying rent and other necessities like food, healthcare, and education.

    When affordable housing is available and families are allowed to find their financial footing, they are able to thrive. According to NLIHC, “increasing access to affordable housing is the most cost-effective strategy for reducing childhood poverty and increasing economic mobility in the United States”. When families have access to stable, affordable housing, they can focus on other crucial aspects of their lives, such as education and career advancement, leading to a more equitable society.

    IMPACT #1: Lake County Families

    In North Chicago and Lake County, Illinois, the need for affordable housing is a growing concern. Many families in our community face the daily challenge of securing a safe and affordable place to live. This is where YouthBuild Lake County steps in. Through our programming, we aim to address this pressing issue by building and rehabilitating homes that provide stability and hope for those in need.

    Although we primarily serve young adults, our participants are, in turn, serving the community. By engaging in our housing projects, they not only learn valuable vocational skills but also contribute directly to the well-being of their neighbors.



    The lives of the people living in the houses we build are not the only ones that are changed. Our members and local business owners also experience the impact of community-revitalizing projects like YBLC’s. Each housing project serves as a catalyst for change, empowering individuals and strengthening the local economy.

    IMPACT #2: YBLC Participants

    In terms of direct impact, our participants have the most visible change. Each construction site serves as a training ground where our participants gain valuable hands-on experience in various trades. This real-world training equips them with the skills needed to secure lifelong careers in fields such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, and HVAC.

    Our participants don’t just build houses; they build their futures. By working on these projects, they gain confidence, develop a strong work ethic, and learn the importance of teamwork and responsibility. The skills they acquire are not just technical but also include problem-solving, leadership, and project management, which are crucial for their personal and professional growth.

    These experiences empower them to break the cycle of poverty and achieve economic independence. At YBLC, we believe that every young person has the power to succeed and create a better life for themselves and their families with access to the right resources and support system. These projects serve as one of those resources to our participants, giving them the opportunity to learn, develop, and find a passion for a future career in the trades.


    IMPACT #3: Local Business Owners (and YBLC Alumni!)

    Our affordable housing projects also play a crucial role in revitalizing the North Chicago economy. By engaging local contractors, we ensure that the economic benefits of our projects stay within the community. This collaboration creates jobs, supports local businesses, and fosters economic growth.

    A prime example of this is Juan, a graduate of our 2006 HVAC cohort. Today, Juan runs his own successful HVAC company and has been contracted to work on our latest project, breaking ground this summer. Not only will he be designing the entire HVAC system for the home, but he said that he is looking to hire a YBLC participant to join his team upon completion of the project! Juan’s journey from a YouthBuild participant to a business owner and participant employer exemplifies the transformative power of our training programs.

    The ripple effect of these projects extends far beyond the immediate impact on our participants. When local contractors like Juan are hired for our projects, they not only gain business but also contribute to the broader economic health of the area. These contractors often reinvest their earnings into their businesses and communities, creating a cycle of economic activity that benefits everyone. As these businesses grow, they can hire more employees, many of whom might be YouthBuild graduates themselves, further extending the impact.



    Juan, graduate of YBLC’s 2006 HVAC program. His company will be contracted on YBLC’s new build.

    As we prepare to break ground on our newest project, we are excited about the continued impact we’ll have. This site will not only provide a safe, affordable home for a family in need but also serve as a training ground for our participants, a business opportunity for local contractors, and a beacon of hope for the community.

    Each new project reinforces our commitment to holistic community development. The training our participants receive not only prepares them for successful careers but also instills a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing they’ve contributed something tangible and lasting to their community.

    Building communities one home at a time is at the heart of what we do at YouthBuild Lake County. Through our affordable housing projects, we provide stability, education, and economic growth. As we look to the future, we remain committed to our mission, knowing that each home we build is a step towards a more resilient community.


    April 2024 Newsletter

    Press Release

    Local Young Adults Engage with Illinois Leaders at Springfield Leadership Summit

    SPRINGFIELD, IL — This week, several young adults from YouthBuild Lake County (YBLC) joined forces with other YouthBuild programs from across Illinois in the Leadership Summit held in Springfield. The event, spanning three days at the state capital, aimed to enhance awareness of the YouthBuild initiatives with key Illinois politicians and to underscore the vital services YouthBuild programs provide.

    YBLC sent six current participants, two alumni, and staff to the series of enriching activities and demonstrations. The summit kicked off with a group dinner on Monday, followed by team-building exercises that fostered connections among youth from various regions of the state.

    Senator Adriane Johnson visiting YBLC participants during the construction demonstration.

    On Tuesday, YBLC participants showcased their skills during a construction demonstration alongside other programs from across the state. The YBLC team constructed a doghouse, which was donated to a local pet shelter.  Senator Adriane Johnson visited the demonstration and had the chance to speak to the young people while they were building.  

    The summit also provided a platform for meaningful engagement with key political figures. On Tuesday, the group met with Illinois Senate President Don Harmon to discuss the transformative impact of YouthBuild programs. The following day, members had the honor of meeting with Representatives Rita Mayfield and Martin McLaughlin at the Capitol Building. The discussions focused on personal testimonies from YBLC participants, highlighting the profound influence of YouthBuild on their lives.

    Representative Rita Mayfield alongside YouthBuild Lake County and other program participants.

    The highlight of the trip came when the YBLC participants had the unique opportunity to sit in the speaker’s gallery during a legislative hearing. Representative Mayfield recognized the group to the legislators and delivered a moving state resolution, reiterating her long-standing support for YouthBuild and its ongoing significance across Illinois.

    YBLC is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary and remains dedicated to empowering young people through education, skills training, and community service, continually striving to make a positive impact both locally and at the state level.

    For more information about YouthBuild Lake County and their initiatives, please visit

    YouthBuild Lake County staff and participants in the Speaker’s Gallery.


    March 2024 Newsletter


    Annual Report 2023