In the midst of a major downturn in the construction industry, in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, Portland YouthBuilders (PYB) has positioned itself to weather the economic headwinds and benefit when the economy improves. It has strengthened core programs to train high school dropouts in the building and construction trades, and introduced programs in computer technology and job readiness in order to help students succeed financially in a knowledge economy. More than 2,000 youth have benefitted from PYB's programs, constructing more than 60 units of affordable housing and refurbishing more than 1,000 computers for low-income families at the same time that they are earning their high school degrees.
In 2010, PYB developed an internship program for students to acquire job experience through placements with local businesses and nonprofits. In 2012, PYB recognized green construction as a significant source of entry-level careers and a way to fill needs from an environmental perspective, so it initiated its own green construction program.
PYB has generated revenue from new funding sources, doubling its goal of first-time foundation support within two years. It established the House Sponsorship Program, offering construction companies the opportunity to provide materials and volunteer labor; it also fully funded its Housing Development Fund, a $400,000 source of low-cost loans, providing financing for PYB housing. PYB engages its community, where low-income families buy PYB-built homes, and local businesses employ graduates. It serves as a model by setting the same high standards for itself as an organization that it sets for its students and then meeting them.