"I had dropped out of high school because it wasn’t right for me. Because of YouthBuild, I now have my diploma and am working full time as a painter."


Leonardo had been working as a cashier at McDonald’s for a few years and got to a point in his life where he knew he needed to make a change. “I felt stuck. I had no path or anything that I was pursuing. I really didn’t like my job and it was stressing me out a lot.” Leo had dropped out of high school because he felt that the traditional school route wasn’t for him but knew he needed to get his high school diploma somehow. He heard of YouthBuild Lake County through his cousin, who had graduated from the program the year before. He decided to give it a shot and applied. Originally, he was only looking to obtain his high school diploma. He had no idea of all the other opportunities YouthBuild would offer him. “They not only helped me get my high school diploma but helped me balance my money and be smarter with spending overall.” Leo also earned 4 construction certifications while at YouthBuild: OSHA 10, YRGE, Flagger, and NCCER. Leo gained work experience through an internship with Santana Equipment, a YouthBuild employer partner. When his internship ended, he was offered a full-time position with Santana Equipment where he now works as a painter. “I left McDonald’s and now I have a path. I wish there was a YouthBuild in every city,” Leo said. “The staff there are more than teachers, they are a support system. Knowing that I accomplished something, and I have the support and potential to reach for more, makes me excited for the future”.