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.