Dorothy Stoneman is founder and president of YouthBuild USA, the national support center for 273 YouthBuild programs in the United States, and the sponsor of YouthBuild International which is working with NGOs and governments that are replicating YouthBuild in Brazil, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Israel, Mexico, Nicaragua, Serbia, and South Africa.
In YouthBuild programs, low-income and unemployed young people ages 16-24 who lack a high school diploma enroll full-time for 6-24 months. They work toward their GEDs or high school diplomas while gaining employment skills by building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people under skilled supervision. Caring adult staff emphasize personal responsibility, mutual support, and leadership development. A wonderful small community is created, and young people radically transform their lives and relationship to society.
Since 1994, in the United States more than 100,000 YouthBuild students have produced over 20,000 units of low-income housing in 273 of America's poorest communities. They go on to college or jobs or apprenticeships in the construction industry, and many earn AmeriCorps education awards for their service in the community. Since 2005 strong emphasis has been placed on teaching green construction skills and building energy efficient homes.
In 1978, Stoneman asked neighborhood teens in East Harlem, New York, how they would like to improve their community. They answered, "We'd rebuild the houses. We’d take empty buildings back from the drug dealers and eliminate crime." Together they did a gut rehabilitation of a ten-unit apartment building; thereafter the program was replicated in five New York City communities with city funds. In 1990, Stoneman founded YouthBuild USA to scale up YouthBuild nationally. By 1992 the program had been replicated in 20 cities with private and local funds and authorized in the federal budget under HUD. Since then, HUD and DOL have awarded YouthBuild grants and contracts totaling more than $900 million to community-based and faith-based organizations, and local public agencies located in rural and urban communities across the USA.
Stoneman has a bachelor's degree in History and Science from Harvard University and master's and doctoral degrees from Bank Street College of Education. She was awarded the international Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2007 through 2013, the John Gardner Leadership Award in 2000, and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1996. She has worked in the fields of youth and community development since 1964, starting in the Civil Rights Movement at the storefront Harlem Action Group, then teaching public school, and running a parent-controlled independent community school before founding YouthBuild in 1978.