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Urban League building youth

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By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-963797.mp3

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Urban League has a new program that is helping at-risk youth build a career and a future.

At first glance, the house being remodeled on the west side looked like many others currently being done in the neighborhood. But this is actually a training ground for out-of-school youth.

Eight young men, between the ages of 17 and 24, are working to gut and then remodel this vacant west side house. The program, called Youth Build, was started about four months ago by the Urban League. It combines General Equivalency Diploma classes, with classroom safety training and hands on training in every aspect of construction.

DeLeon Evans is the project manager. He said the program prepares young people for real jobs.

"The whole goal of the program is to help youth learn some skills, learn some work ethic, and really help them start their careers with entry-level construction jobs training," said Evans. "It';s basically four-pathways to success - help them get a job, working with contractors...some of them are hiring right now."

In fact, since WBFO interviewed Evans and some of the young people in the program, six of them have been offered professional construction jobs. But 19-year old Quinn Lamar is on a different path.

"I want to go back to school and in the program they aid they'd help me do that," said Lamar.

That is another of the program's goals. It exposes young participants to higher education opportunities and prepares them to succeed when they do return to school. There are fifteen young people currently in the program. The Urban League hopes to graduate about 50 youth each year.