About Portland YouthBuilders

Who We Serve

We enroll young people aged 17-26, though the great majority of our students are in their teens. Nearly 60% of our students are people of color, with our BIPOC community comprised of Latinx, African American, Native American, and Asian/Pacific Islander students. On average, approximately 70% identify as male and 30% as female, with a small percentage who identify as non-binary.

Nearly all of our students come to us with histories of significant trauma, including poverty, dropping out of school, homelessness, substance abuse, violence in the home, involvement with the justice system, and more. Some of our students have learning disabilities, have been in foster care, or are custodial parents.

Additionally, all of our students are deeply motivated to make a positive change in their lives. Once they take the bold and brave step to join our program, our students are notorious for doing all they can to make it work.

Our Approach

When you walk into the PYB building, you feel it: pride, connection and progress. On any given day, you might see a team of construction students loading up equipment to head to the job site, tech students explaining their latest 3D printed creation, a group of alumni stopping by for a visit, or a regular meeting of the entire community taking place. You feel energy at PYB. Positive change is in the air.

We believe that if we raise the bar for success, our students will rise to the challenge. And we couple those high expectations with very high levels of staff support so that students aren’t set up to fail. Our robust counseling and case management system provides even more support as needed.
Our students face extraordinary pressures in their daily lives. Our experience shows us that a combination of trauma informed care, our relationship-based model, and practical support services are the best ways for us to help students focus on achieving their goals.

All of our programs are offered free of charge; in fact, we pay our students a small stipend every month to help alleviate their financial stress. We also choose to make financial investments in our students when appropriate or needed, and on an equitable basis, so they can reach their full potential and take advantage of the full array of services we have to offer.

Equity And Inclusion

Equity is a driving force behind all that we do at PYB. We prepare a very diverse community of students, including students of color, young women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, for a workforce where they have very little representation. Not only are we compelled to provide our students with the best possible training so that they can be exemplary employees, we are also compelled to speak up and fight against injustice in order to create a more equitable space for our students to launch their careers once they leave PYB.

We are especially committed to deepening our understanding of race, anti-racism, and the impacts of race in education. We ‚Äčacknowledge that in order to best serve all youth in need of our services, it is imperative for us to confront the inequity within our own organization and do so continuously.

PYB’s Impact

Since 1995, we have literally changed thousands of young lives. Our students emerge from PYB with a high school education, a significant reduction or elimination of personal barriers, and an excellent career path. On average, over 75% of YouthBuild students complete high school and enter college or a career; 95% of Bridge students enter a career after PYB.

We serve students on two distinct levels. One is obvious and easy to quantify: education leads to high school completion, vocational training leads to successful careers, counseling leads to housing or healthcare, and so on. The other level of services is just as important, if not more so, and includes a safe haven during the day, a sense of purpose, a school that is working towards anti-racism and equity, a community of motivated peers and caring adults, newly discovered confidence, and the knowledge for students that someone will always have their back.

We are proud that Bridge and YouthBuild construction students have built nearly 100 affordable homes for our local community, and that YouthBuild technology students have refurbished thousands of computers and taught online safety classes to hundreds of older adults. On average, our students give a combined total of over 30,000 hours of volunteer service back to the community.