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Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: YouthCare

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March 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Dropouts build futures with hammer, nails and job skills

Courtesy YouthBuild

Courtesy YouthBuild

Six months ago, the future looked bleak for 18-year-old Esequiel Sandoval. He had dropped out of Highline High School, believing that he lacked the credits to graduate with his class, and bounced between several part-time jobs — McDonald’s, house-painting. Whatever might net him a few dollars.

But next week, he will graduate from YouthCare’s YouthBuild construction apprenticeship program — with his high-school diploma, a carpenter certification and the chance to earn starting wages of about $21 per hour.

“It’s a huge turnaround for me,” said Sandoval, who is awaiting the birth of his first child. “If I wasn’t in this program, I probably wouldn’t be doing anything.”

All of the 125 young people who have been through the Seattle-area program during the past five years could say the same. But amidst the thundering din surrounding education reform, most of the racket focuses on sending more young people to college. Pathways for success outside the classroom earn only a rare mention.


Comments | More in News | Topics: dropouts, YouthBuild, YouthCare