Twenty-eight students will be recognized as graduates of the Venice Community Housing Corporation’s YouthBuild program during a ceremony Friday, June 8.

The YouthBuild program is an ongoing, comprehensive secondary education and job training program that works to help at-risk youths gain the skills, values and confidence they need to become self-sufficient adults. The program serves over 40 at-risk youth ages 17 to 24 each year.

The graduation ceremony is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel, 13480 Maxella Ave., Del Rey.

YouthBuild participants spend 50 percent of their time in the classroom working towards a high school diploma or equivalent, 40 percent in construction training – often on the site of affordable housing projects, and 10 percent participating in community service and leadership development activities. The students earn a stipend for time spent in the classroom and $8 an hour for work on affordable housing construction sites.

For this 10th cycle of YouthBuild, 40 very low-income and out of school youths were recruited from throughout Venice and the surrounding areas of Los Angeles. Some were referred to the housing corporation by county probation officers.

Many had a criminal history, some were recovering from substance abuse and none had any real work experience, a YouthBuild spokesperson said.

“We look for youth who were ready to tackle some of the barriers they need to overcome in order to be able to be successful,” says Timothy Sweeney, director of programs. “These young adults not only need training, but need opportunities to find their identity and would benefit from the sense of community this program offers,”

Recent program activities have included a day of service at the Westside Veterans Administration hospital, a neighborhood clean-up, and advocating for alternative job training programs before the state legislature in Sacramento.

Participants also receive career guidance, educational planning and placement services, life skills training, case management, and one year of post-program follow-up services.

This comprehensive approach not only allows participants to stabilize their lives but also encourages them to reach for new goals, the corporation notes.

The Venice YouthBuild program is funded by Venice Community Housing Corporation, U.S. Department of Labor, Dwight Stewart Foundations, AmeriCorps, and John Muir Charter School.

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