Summer Youth Workforce Development Program in New Orleans

July 12, 2021
by Ella Colbert, AmeriCorps VISTA Member at Rebuilding Together New Orleans

New Orleans has the third largest population of opportunity youth in the United States. Opportunity youth are those ages 16 to 24 who are not connected with school or employment. A combination of low-wage jobs and an affordable housing crisis makes it incredibly difficult for these youths to obtain jobs that pay the higher wages necessary to live affordably. Rebuilding Together’s mission is to repair homes, revitalize communities and rebuild lives, so here in New Orleans, Rebuilding Together New Orleans is revitalizing our community through our Summer Youth Workforce Development Program.

As one of Rebuilding Together New Orleans’ AmeriCorps VISTA members and the coordinator of the Summer Youth Workforce Development Program, I was put in charge of finding young adults who may be interested in the program. We recruited a group of six recent high school graduates and rising seniors from various schools and neighborhoods across New Orleans to join us as AmeriCorps members for nine weeks. Through the program, they participate in daily professional development opportunities--with topics ranging from communication and leadership to financial literacy and interview skills--and get their hands dirty on site repairing their neighbors’ homes. It’s a great opportunity to engage with and serve their city while receiving critical training to help improve their career search and employability.While the bulk of our programming is centered on hands-on construction skills, all the members are given opportunities to explore other fields to create a career path that best suits their interests and goals. We currently have an aspiring author, nurse, animation designer, construction worker, U.S. Marine and skateboard manufacturer with us; it has been amazing to watch as they develop their goals and start paving their way!

We are so grateful to have a dedicated and talented summer cohort this year! The Summer Youth Workforce Development members always have great attitudes and--just like us--love to have fun while working hard. We are currently four weeks in with five remaining and are beginning the process of matching participants up with future employment opportunities.

Interested in joining AmeriCorps with Rebuilding Together? Visit to learn more.