Here come the graduates!

YouthBuild participants pictured clockwise are Justin Roberson, Xavier Jones, Dylan Campbell and Robert (Bert) Holden who received a GED, and Brittanee Freeland, who earned a high school diploma. Also pictured in center of photo is Jessica Cross, NEWESD 101 education case manager. Not pictured: YouthBuild graduate Austin Chastain.

Six members of NEWESD 101’s YouthBuild Spokane were acknowledged at a celebration breakfast October 28 for achieving important educational milestones.
Recognized for earning a GED were Justin Roberson, Xavier Jones, Dylan Campbell and Robert Holden. Brittanee Freeland was recognized for meeting requirements for a high school diploma.
Justin is an aspiring underwater welder with plans to attend Spokane Community College after completing YouthBuild. Xavier would like to join the Army National Guard. Afterwards, he is interested in going to college or doing an apprenticeship. Dylan is considering careers in long- haul truck driving and culinary arts.
Robert would like to train for a career as a technician engineer or mechanic. In the meantime, he is pursuing an apprenticeship as a heavy equipment operator. Brittanee is attending a college preparation course through the Community Colleges of Spokane and plans to transition to post-secondary education once her term is complete.
Austin Chastain, who also earned a GED, will be attending Spokane Community College and transferring to Eastern Washington University to obtain degrees in English and philosophy while training as a high school teacher. Eventually, he would like to work as a college professor.
In YouthBuild, young adults who left high school are given a second chance in the classroom, while also training for a career in the construction industry. Since YouthBuild began in 2009, 96 percent of program graduates have earned a high school diploma or GED. Twenty-eight percent have gone to college and 40 percent entered full-time employment in the non-profit or commercial construction sectors.
Participants also receive an opportunity to co-enroll in AmeriCorps. So far, 44 YouthBuild members have completed over 13,000 hours of community service through AmeriCorps, earning more than $51,700 for current or future post-secondary education expenses.
Jessica Cross was recently hired to work with YouthBuild members as an education case manager. Since she began this past August, she has already helped three students earn a high school diploma. Another nine have completed their GED.
“Jessica’s dedication has made a positive difference for students and the YouthBuild program,” said Manda Edwards, program manager. ”She works with participants to improve literacy and numeracy skills while laying a foundation for them to earn a diploma or GED. She also helps every member develop a long-term education plan.”
YouthBuild participants spend half of each day in the classroom, completing credit toward their high school diplomas or GEDs, and the other half on construction job sites. Students successfully completing a six-month term receive an AmeriCorps educational award of $1,125.
YouthBuild members are currently constructing a new home at 2119 West Mallon in Spokane. Once complete, the City of Spokane will sell the home to a low-income family and/or first-time home buyer. Most recently, the YouthBuild team completed a similar home in the Spokane Valley for First Story, a Northwest non-profit.
Individuals and families interested in learning more about YouthBuild Spokane may attend an informational session at 2424 East Riverside Avenue on November 17 or November 30 at 3 p.m. The next cohort of YouthBuild will begin in December. (A.H.)