YouthBuild USA Taps Workforce Development Pioneer to Create New Pathways to Economic Opportunity

June 24, 2020

National partnership with Penn Foster expands access to online education and training for YouthBuild programs in high-demand fields like healthcare, skilled trades.

BOSTON, June 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — YouthBuild programs across the country can now offer a comprehensive set of online skills training programs to their learners, thanks to a new partnership between YouthBuild USA and Penn Foster, the pioneering workforce development platform that works with employers and community organizations around the country to bridge the gap between education and economic mobility. Through this collaboration, YouthBuild programs can now access more affordable, on-demand and online diploma and credential programs designed to equip their learners with the skills to succeed in a rapidly changing economy.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges in the job market, making it more important than ever that we provide our young people with new pathways to career success," said John Valverde, CEO of YouthBuild USA. "This partnership is about ensuring that the entire YouthBuild network has access to training programs that are accessible remotely and that are aligned with the economy's most in-demand skills. Opportunity youth can play a major role in restarting the economy — we just have to give them the tools to succeed."

YouthBuild programs help unemployed and out-of-school young people ages 16 to 24 attain their High School Equivalency (HSE) or high school diploma. During that time, they also learn career skills by building affordable housing and other community assets in their neighborhoods while engaging in community service and leadership training. Graduates leave prepared for success in post-secondary education, careers and registered apprenticeships — and as a part of a strong and supportive global community.

"Before our YouthBuild program started using Penn Foster, 40 percent of students were able to earn their GED. Since partnering with Penn Foster, we have seen a significant increase in diploma attainment to 80 percent," said Rachel Harris, YouthBuild Coordinator of Community Development Support Association's YouthBuild program in Enid, OK. "Many of our students have been out of school for several years and they feel like earning a high school diploma is an unattainable goal. Penn Foster gives them hope and I am so glad more YouthBuild programs across the country will now have access to it."

The new partnership between the two organizations builds upon Penn Foster's history of serving YouthBuild programs: more than 2,000 YouthBuild participants across 50+ locations have already graduated from Penn Foster High School. Now, Penn Foster's skills training programs in fields like healthcare, skilled trades, hospitality, construction and IT will be available to all YouthBuild programs at a reduced price.

"YouthBuild's commitment to both economic mobility and community engagement is shaping a brighter future for young people across the country," said Frank Britt, CEO of Penn Foster. 

"Together, we're expanding access to a new model of education and career preparation with the potential to close pervasive skill and equity gaps."

YouthBuild programs support their learners to increase competencies and develop workforce skills in an accredited High School Completion program. Additionally, learners can attain the skills needed for entry-level employment with career diplomas and ACE-accredited individual college courses. The courses are mobile-friendly and can be completed entirely online, ensuring that learners will be able to earn critical industry credentials despite the social distancing measures implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Penn Foster's curriculum in middle-skill fields, including design, healthcare, and skilled trades, is used by more than 200,000 learners each year. Through partnerships with leading employers and workforce organizations, from Penske Corporation to Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas, Penn Foster provides training and reskilling programs that help job-seekers and working learners access opportunity in high-growth fields.

About Penn Foster
Penn Foster is bridging the gap between education and economic opportunity to build the workforce of tomorrow. We partner with employers to design and deliver digital and blended learning programs that attract, upskill, and retain workers in America’s fastest-growing fields and professions. With more than 40,000 graduates each year, Penn Foster helps individuals discover pathways to opportunity through accredited diploma, certificate and degree programs that matter in the world of work. For more information, visit

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