YouthBuild USA is proud to announce that Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) has been named a YouthBuild Champion, working to amplify the voices of YouthBuild students and alumni in Congress.
YouthBuild Champions are congressional leaders who advocate for funding and policies that benefit opportunity youth and their communities. Every year, these elected officials author and lead the signing campaigns of Dear Colleague letters that signal Congress’s strong bipartisan, bicameral support for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) YouthBuild program.
In YouthBuild programs, opportunity youth — young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor employed — pursue their education, prepare for future careers and grow into community leaders, building brighter futures for themselves and their neighborhoods. With love and respect, YouthBuild partners with opportunity youth to build the skillsets and mindsets that lead to lifelong learning, livelihood and leadership. Responding to the urgent need for knowledge, training and opportunity, YouthBuild primarily serves young people who lack a high school diploma and financial resources.
“It is an honor to follow in Congressman John Lewis’s footsteps to champion funding for YouthBuild in the House of Representatives along with Congressman Scott Perry,” said Congressmember Karen Bass. “YouthBuild provides hundreds of young people in South Los Angeles, and thousands throughout the country, with the skills needed to be successful in our communities, with the mission of creating a more equitable society. You cannot help young folks thrive by forcing them into a mold – you need to invest in them and help them grow so that they can reach their full potential. That’s what YouthBuild does. I’m so proud to join this effort.”
Rep. Bass’s career has been mission-focused, mirroring the YouthBuild movement and the communities served by YouthBuild programs. In her first term, she created the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and is currently a co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, Rep. Bass’s commitment to social justice delivers results in her district, across the nation and around the world.
“Representative Karen Bass knows how much potential and power young people hold as they transform themselves and their communities for the better,” said John Valverde, president and CEO of YouthBuild USA. “We are honored to have her leadership as she and her fellow Champions help us support opportunity youth in finding pathways to a healthy, productive future.”
For more than a decade, YouthBuild USA’s support letter efforts in Congress were led by the late Representative John Lewis, the civil rights icon and tireless advocate for justice. He worked alongside fellow Champions Representative Scott Perry, Senator John Cornyn and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the FY21 appropriations process. Now, in preparation for FY22, Rep. Bass joins this bipartisan coalition on behalf of opportunity youth across the country – including those at South Los Angeles YouthBuild, a local program in her district.
“Congressmember Bass has been a mentor, advocate and champion for youth in South Los Angeles and throughout this nation,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, which encompasses South Los Angeles YouthBuild. “Her tenacity is an inspiration to our youth, and she continues to set an example to our leaders that we should never lower the bar to serving our youth. Our young people are our future leaders, and we should not be afraid to provide them the tools they need to shine and realize their successful destiny. On behalf of the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, I am excited to stand with Congressmember Bass as our Champion in the Democratic Party in the United State House of Representatives.”
With youth leaders at the forefront, YouthBuild USA advocates for increased federal appropriations and for expanding national service funding for opportunity youth. DOL receives an annual appropriation from Congress for the federal YouthBuild program, which is administered by the Division of Youth Services within the Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Workforce Investment. DOL funding helps opportunity youth reach key educational and career milestones to become successful in the workplace and become leaders in their communities.
YouthBuild USA is the nonprofit support center for a global network of 290 local YouthBuild programs in 18 countries, with 233 programs in 46 U.S. states and territories and 57 programs in 17 other countries.