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TRANSFORMING LIVES ONE RAIN GARDEN AT A TIME

At-risk young people in Elizabeth City start a new path in life, earning an education and getting on-the-job training about techniques to control polluted runoff.

Run by River City Community Development Corp., YouthBuild, which started in Elizabeth City in 1999, is a national program focused on helping at-risk young people ages 16 to 24.  With a successful combination of education, job skill training, community service, mentoring and myriad support systems, YouthBuild has a proven track record of turning around troubled lives.

Angie Wills, the YouthBuild program manager, thinks it’s more accurate to describe YouthBuild as a “youth transformation” program.

“They come in one way, and they leave completely different,” she says.  “They don’t go back and do the same thing.”

Most of the participants in Elizabeth City come from low-income families, are high school drop-outs and are mostly men from minority populations. Some have had run-ins with the law.

Measurements of success for graduates, Wills says  include a 70.9 percent rate of placement in higher education or employment; a 60 percent rate of obtainment of a degree or a training certificate with a  72 percent retention rate for more than nine months; and zero percent recidivism rate with the same criminal offense.

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Coastal Review