LOUISVILLE, Ky. ( MainStreet) -- It was a peculiar year for YouthBuild Louisville. Just as the aid program for jobless and undereducated young adults struggled to fulfill its role amid seemingly immutable unemployment figures, SCORE named it the Outstanding Nonprofit Organization.
The category was added this year, making YouthBuild Louisville the first recipient.
The nonprofit program is part of a national organization. More than 273 programs have been created in cities across the U.S. under YouthBuild USA. The first program was started in 1978 in Harlem, N.Y.
Between 75% and 90% of YouthBuild's participants, all age 16 to 24, are high school dropouts; 61% are parents; and at least half have experience with the court system, according to Lynn Rippy, executive director of YouthBuild Louisville.The program provides five primary components: education, job training programs, emphasis on the role of community service, social service and, finally, career development. Participants split their time between the classroom in which they get their GEDs and a job site, where they contribute to building affordable housing for low-income families and the homeless. "Even though we are a nonprofit, we are a small business," Rippy says. "The primary way that we're like a small business is we have to make sure we bring enough money in to pay our bills. We run our program efficiently." A primary goal for YouthBuild Louisville is learning how to become less dependent on federal funds, which are not guaranteed. One way is by building out a "product line" of gardening supplies and sheds. The organization also hopes to have a fully functioning restaurant one day from its vegetable garden. "Our goal is to