Heartland YouthBuild is a free, San Diego-based 501C3 charter school.  Rooted in principles of leadership, social justice and community service, YouthBuild helps unemployed, out-of-school young people between the ages of 16 and 24 reclaim their lives and get a quality education, while building the skills they need to become productive members of society.

At YouthBuild programs in the United States and across the globe, low-income young people learn construction skills through building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people in their neighborhoods along with other community assets such as schools, playgrounds, and community centers.

YouthBuild is an opportunity for unemployed young people who left high school without a diploma to get an education, learn the skills they need for meaningful, long-term employment, and gain the necessary confidence to become leaders in their respective communities.


There are at least 2.3 million unemployed, low-income 16-24 year-olds in the United States who are not in school or vocational training of any kind. 

Globally, over 200 million youth are working poor and earning less than $2.00 a day. All are in urgent need of pathways to education, jobs, entrepreneurship, and other opportunities leading to productive livelihoods and community leadership.

YouthBuild programs provide those pathways. All over the world, YouthBuild unleashes the positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives, breaking the cycle of poverty with a commitment to work, education, family, and community.


YouthBuild’s  core values and essential program qualities reflect a unique philosophical heart and spirit that distinguish our model from all others. Program components must be suffused with these values and qualities, and staff must be trained in their meaning. At YouthBuild programs, we speak unabashedly of love, respect and responsibility…courage, integrity, and cooperation. It’s these driving values that led the New York Times to call YouthBuild “a wellspring of human reclamation.” ​