Youth program alternative for students

June 24, 2011 1:41:02 PM PDT
It is considered a saving grace for troubled teenagers. Youth Build is a federally funded program that helps low income, at-risk teens finish school and prepare for careers.

It has been enormously successful.

But now congress is considering slashing funding and that could leave hundreds of teens in our area with no place to turn.

Donovan Bruce dropped out of two different high schools. Today he's getting paid to learn home construction, while studying to finish his high school education.

Where traditional high school failed, the federally-funded Youth Build program is succeeding for Donovan.

He plans to attend college in the fall.

"You're just learning in a good environment and everybody is helping each other out. Everybody gets a chance to succeed," he said.

Even though Youth-Build helps kids finish school and prepare for careers, congress has cut the program's funding by more than one-third.

One of the hardest hit programs is in Brooklyn where students get second or third chances. It's one of dozens of similar programs around the nation that have lost federal funding.

"The idea idea of cutting this program to even fever young people rather than opening the doors to those who are looking for a way back into a productive role is really bad policy. This program works. I mean we have young people lining up outside the doors. They call it the harvard of the 'hood because there's such a high demand for it."

That demand results from a nurturing environment, which Yanique Eubanks couldn't find when she quit high school last year.

"They're like a family. They are like the mother, the aunt the cousins and stuff that you never had," she said.

While politicians search for a way to help troubled kids continue their education, Youth Build advocates say the government is already funding one. The answer, they argue is to expand, not reduce programs that turn lives around.