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YouthBuild Rockford Helps Residents Find Pathways to Success

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Stateline area companies are hiring.

But, there’s just one problem… Thousands of people in the workforce aren’t qualified for those jobs.

And that’s where YouthBuild Rockford comes in.

The program hopes to bridge the gap between employers and potential employees.

“It’s the best feeling in the world to me.”

Phillip Thompson talking about the moment he walked across the stage to get his high school diploma.

And it’s all thanks to YouthBuild.

“They really try to help you over here, and they really want to see you make it out,” said Thompson.”They want to see everybody take the right path, so I think it was a good option that I chose to come here.”

Thompson was one of thousands of stateline residents who don’t have a GED or high school diploma.

YouthBuild hopes to change that.

“Our goal is to help them figure where they want to be, who they need to be, and how they’re going to change their circumstance to be somewhere where they really want to be,” said Jill Boepple, the YouthBuild & Americorp Program Director.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney says the lack of high school diplomas in the local workforce is at a crisis level.

“When you have 41,000 people without a high school diploma or GED, that prevents a lot of good things from happening,” said Haney. “And allows too many bad things to happen.”

Haney’s own father is a high school drop out.

But, eventually earned his GED and then went on to have a career as an electrician.

He says his father’s hard work and sacrifices made him the person he is today, and without it, who knows where he could have been.

“GED itself is not the end game but it’s a step in the process,” said Haney. “Without a high school diploma or GED, you can’t get to the next step in the process.”

In addition to earning their GED’s, the YouthBuild Rockford graduates logged over 13,000 hours of community service.

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