We are proud to offer an exceptional academic program for the young people that we serve. YouthBuild students work towards earning their high school diploma or getting GED help while developing strong critical thinking, writing, reading, math, job readiness, and leadership skills.

The challenge

By the time they reach PYB, the majority of our students have been out of the traditional school system for at least a year. Many of them have been out of school for multiple years.

Our students leave traditional schooling for a wide variety of reasons. It’s very common for us to enroll young people who left their former school because they had to work to support their families. Others got into trouble after they fell into the wrong crowd, or didn’t feel like they were cutting it academically. Some very bright students felt bored at their traditional school and felt it was a waste of their time. Many tell us that they didn’t feel seen or heard by their former teachers or peers. Frankly, for every reason listed here, our students have shared with us a dozen more. Our students and their educational backgrounds are unique.

Once a student has the desire and ability to return to school, whether that’s at a traditional diploma-granting school or through GED programs for youth, the past trauma of their former school experience is often deeply ingrained and very difficult to overcome.

Our Response

We intentionally offer a very different educational experience for our students so that they can successfully begin to equate school with achievement instead of failure. The result is that our students take learning seriously and are able to find academic success at PYB.

A young person who did not thrive in a traditional school environment often feels right at home with us. To start with, our classrooms look different. Class sizes are small, students sit together at tables instead of in rows of desks, and teachers and tutors are rarely in front of the room in a traditional lecture style.

Our case management system and our focus on building deep relationships with each student means that our youth receive customized, individual support to match their educational needs and goals. For those students who felt unseen or unheard at their previous schools, having caring teachers and peers who truly know them and want to help them learn makes a world of difference.

On the foundational level, we help young people reframe their thinking in order to see themselves as lifelong learners. This goes along with our belief that students perform best in a culture of high expectations coupled with high levels of support. If a student is having difficulty grasping an important concept, we won’t let it slide. The expectation is that our students will do the work to learn, while our promise is that teachers will find multiple ways to present the information until it clicks. Success breeds success.

Our Method

At PYB we offer much more than GED classes for young adults; we are a fully accredited diploma-granting high school. PYB’s academic program is led by certified and highly experienced teachers with advanced degrees and a passion for helping young people see themselves as confident learners. Professionally trained tutors help provide additional one-on-one support as needed.

YouthBuild students spend half of their time each month in the classroom. Most are working on earning their high school diploma or getting GED help, while others are preparing to continue their education after PYB in college, apprenticeship, or another post-secondary educational program.

Our standard curriculum includes math, literature, writing, social studies, and GED preparation, plus seminars in science, computer literacy, test taking skills, and college placement test prep. Classes such as leadership, service learning, reading, life skills, and more are integrated throughout our school, not just during the academic schedule.

Part of getting to know our students means getting to know their learning style, and our teachers are adept at switching things up to reach our aural, visual, and kinesthetic learners. To counter that “where am I ever going to use this?” feeling, our YouthBuild students frequently put what they learn in the classroom into practice on their vocational training site, where they can see their education coming to life in a real-world setting.

Student Success

Most students in our YouthBuild program finish high school at PYB with their GED, while others earn a high school diploma. On average, over 75% of our YouthBuild students finish high school each year and advance to college, an apprenticeship, or start their career. Our long term support program means that students who continue their studies at college or in a certificate program can receive ongoing support from their PYB teachers and counselor to help them reach their educational goals.

Become a student

We believe we offer the best education in Portland for young people who are returning to school and want to get GED help or earn their diploma. Click here to start the application process.