Saint-Gobain Announces Partnership Extension with YouthBuild U.S.A & Expansion to South Africa

Saint-Gobain and YouthBuild’s partnership has been extended AND expanded internationally, and we couldn’t be more excited! Saint-Gobain has expanded its partnership with YouthBuild USA, to South Africa and current national partnership through 2017.

To make this announcement, Saint-Gobain hosted a press conference at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

Saint-Gobain CEO John Crowe, Global CEO Pierre Andre De Chalendar, Dorothy Stoneman, founder and CEO of YouthBuild and Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter joined together to make this exciting announcement to the press during Saint-Gobain’s 350th Anniversary.

John Crowe, Saint-Gobain General Delegate, Jerome Kinard, YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School graduate, Dorothy Stoneman, Founder and CEO of YouthBuild USA, Inc. and Pierre-André de Chalendar, Saint-Gobain Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yes! You read that right!  Saint-Gobain celebrated its 350th anniversary this year. In fact, this press conference took place simultaneously during the company’s celebration at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (also known as the Oval,) where four ephemeral pavilions were located, and open to the public, celebrating Saint-Gobain’s past and look toward the future.

Check out the video below for a look at that spectacular event at the Oval.

Now back to business…

YouthBuild Philly graduate, Jerome Kinard,  spoke at the conference about his journey joining YouthBuild and where he is today, which is currently working in his field of choice after completing the YouthBuild program and graduating this past summer. Go Jerome!

Jerome Kinard speaking during the press conference

During his time at YouthBuild, Jerome worked side-by-side with Saint-Gobain employees and used CertainTeed material while reconstructing two vacant dilapidated homes on Wingohocking Street in Philadelphia. How about that for a resume update!

Mayor Michael Nutter speaking at the press conference

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter also joined in on the fun and congratulated Saint-Gobain and YouthBuild on its partnership. Nutter advised us to keep up the good work and thanked us in supporting his efforts to rebuild the middle class in Philadelphia. That we will do Mr. Nutter!

This event allowed all of our YouthBuild partners to come together and celebrate the future of our partnership and the great activities to come in support of the generation of green builders.

YouthBuild partners from Schenectady, NY, Worcester, MA, Canton, OH and Philadelphia, PA.

Now, moving across borders…..

In South Africa, Saint-Gobain currently operates an accredited training program that prepares disadvantaged youth for work in the construction industry through Youthbuild. Leveraging this existing training program, Saint-Gobain and YouthBuild International, a division of YouthBuild USA, Inc., are working together to open the first ever YouthBuild school in Samrand, South Africa!

To start, this program will serve 50 youth by teaching them in-classroom and hands-on training, while working alongside our building scientists and learn about sustainable building techniques and products.

“Due to the success of the Saint-Gobain-YouthBuild partnership in educating future generations and preparing them for sustainable careers in the green building industry and other high-demand careers, we have our sights set on replicating our U.S. partnership in South Africa,” said Dorothy Stoneman, Founder and CEO of YouthBuild USA, Inc. And that is what we are doing.

Please stay tuned for more updates on our partnership with YouthBuild!

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Design meeting for new YouthBuild project in Schenectady

Saint-Gobain employees and YouthBuild Schenectady staff and students met with project partners recently for a design charrette to launch the start of YouthBuild’s new green building project in Schenectady, New York.


A charrette is an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development.  It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers. More importantly, it allows everyone who participates to be a mutual author of the plan.


To start the day, the students and staff took a visit to the site, just a few blocks away from the charrette, to see the home that will be renovated in the project.  Students explained the demolition process to the staff and what the obstacles were removing waste from the property.  The home had been vacant for several years and requires a lot of attention.


During the charrette, students learned about sustainable building practices and products through presentations from Lucas Hamilton, CertainTeed building scientist and charrette facilitator Tracie Hall, Executive Director of the New York chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

In the afternoon, students and staff broke up into groups to discuss design elements that would qualify the building for LEED certification based on the six-category rating system. Sections of the checklist included material and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation.

Work is expected to begin on the Schenectady project in the early fall.

For more photos of 706 Vale Place, check out the link below!




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2015 WORCESTER YOUTHBUILD: Spring Highlights



On April 14th, Worcester YouthBuild students Akiana Molina, Joel Padilla, Greyscha Vachier, Rosemarie Ramos, Savannah Polinski, and Cyrille Tekam-Tiako participated in a Design Charrette along with representatives from Saint-Gobain, CertainTeed, YouthBuild USA, Main South Community Development Corporation, National Grid, and Training Resources of America, Inc. (operator of Worcester YouthBuild).

The Design Charrette was an intensive, day-long, hands-on workshop that brought people from different disciplines and backgrounds together to explore design options for 1-3 Kilby Street with the intent of turning this 13,200 square foot building into 9 low-energy housing units. After touring the building, the group studied/discussed ways that the rehab project could obtain LEED Certification.  Lucas Hamilton, Manager, Building Science Applications at CertainTeed / Saint-Gobain, was on hand to share information on Saint-Gobain/ CertainTeed products and the positive effects that green building materials and techniques have on housing, health, and the community. The day was fun, informative, and productive with the team determining that the project could minimally attain a gold certification threshold.



On May 31st, Saint-Gobain scientists Alex Lee, Kevin Ramirez, and Christopher Comeaux from the R&D facility in Northborough, MA provided a Scientist in the Classroom session which started at the YouthBuild worksite at 898 Main Street, Worcester and continued at the Worcester YouthBuild classroom.  The scientists taught a math lesson on area and perimeter using Boston Fenway Park and the Boston Garden as models. The scientists also brought in some CertainTeed/ Saint-Gobain products, explaining how each product is developed, manufactured, and ultimately utilized on a jobsite.                     

The scientists were very interested to learn about how the students were coming along in their studies and preparation for the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET).  They bought lunch for the students and ate together at the worksite.


In the photo at the right, scientist Chris Comeaux teaches a math class on area and perimeter.



On May 19th the students of Worcester YouthBuild visited The Saint-Gobain Abrasives plant in Worcester and their Research and Development facility in Northborough. Students were given a tour of the massive industrial areas and saw firsthand how the production lines churn out quality grinding wheels and other sanding and finishing materials. The tour took place during a typical day shift at the plant, and students were provided protective gear including hardhats, eyewear, earplugs, and shoe coverings. Walking through the plant, the students were able to see the entire process of raw materials being combined together to form a finished product. The students then traveled to Northborough to visit the R&D facility. There, the tour allowed them to witness some of the newest products and concepts still on the drawing board. Saint-Gobain provided a delicious lunch of pizza and salad and desserts.

Seeing the development of these green products seemed to bolster the students’ performance on their own worksite. And more of them have now been considering a career in construction and other trades.


One student, Akiana Molina, has been particularly driven to excel in her performance.  Akiana is a 22-year old single mom with a very strong work ethic. She plans on applying for an apprenticeship at the local carpenters union upon attaining her high schoolequivalency diploma. She has attended several events in the city of Worcester regarding fair employment and wages for the youth of the community. She was a featured speaker at City Hall and at the May Day Rally, where she lent her voice before a large crowd advocating for jobs for youth in Worcester.


    Another YouthBuild student who has his own vision of career success is Marcus Diaz. Marcus has a love for cars and working on them. He has been performing an internship at Gerardi’s Garage, a local mechanic shop in the city, and is doing a fantastic job. The crew at the garage has taken a liking to Marcus and he has been a great addition.  He hopes to land full time employment there when the YouthBuild cycle ends.



Academics have been improving as well for this year’s YouthBuild team.  Several of the students have begun High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) testing, and have been scoring well.  Gabriel Rodriguez was the first to obtain his high school equivalency diploma (HiSED), with a very high score!  Staff is very proud of him. Gabriel emerged as a youth leader early on and showed interest in assisting the instructor with helping his fellow classmates.  Although his high school equivalency diploma goal has been reached, Gabriel continues

YB student Gabriel Rodriguez, at left, displays his diploma with a congratulatory handshake from YB Counselor/ Case Manager Doug Daigle.

to assist the instructor, as well as preparing to take his Accuplacer exam for Quinsigamond Community College, where he plans on attending this fall.  Gabriel wants to work in Human Services as a youth outreach coordinator while in college.  He has demonstrated skill in working with teens and shown an aptitude for teaching. We know he will be a great asset to his community.



     On May 20th, students took part in YouthBuild Re-Commitment Day. This event was designed for the students to revisit their initial purpose for joining YouthBuild, as well as remembering the determination they had during Mental Toughness. The first two thirds of the day were filled with team-building exercises and a re-focus on goals.  After lunch, students and staff visited a nearby park and played touch football and basketball, coming together in a mix of competitiveness and teamwork. It was a great end to a wonderful day!



    “The Working Lunch” is hosted by Jeff Turgeon and Sean McGauley and produced by Bob Zukowski, all from the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board.  The Working Lunch” highlights workforce development in Central Massachusetts, the State and the Nation with the latest employment trends and job search tips. It also features interviews with special guests. You can stream them live from WCUW 91.3 FM during show times 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM every fourth Wednesday of the month, or view past episodes on their YouTube Channel.

The following is a link to a segment they did on TRA’s Worcester YouthBuild Program that aired on April 22nd:



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YouthBuild Philly Tours Performance Plastics Manufacturing Plant for Career Exploration Day

Youthbuild Philadelphia took a trip to visit their first ever Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Manufacturing Plant, located in Mickleton, New Jersey on May 5, 2015.  The group was warmly welcomed by Plant Manager, Lance Delaney, who kicked the day off with a presentation detailing the history of Saint-Gobain to give the students an understanding of the company as a whole.  Between a briefing on EHS highlighting Saint-Gobain’s value to safety, touring the plant, learning about current employee career journeys and hearing about career opportunities, the day was informative but extremely fun! The students were able to not only see the products, but to learn their real-world application of how Performance Plastics products are used in customer’s daily lives. 

The students split up into smaller groups led by Saint-Gobain employees, who emphasized and explained how the products were made, what products were manufactured at this particular plant, and which materials were used in the process.

The students watched as the same raw materials were made into different products that would end up having much different functions. 

It was interesting to get a firsthand look and realize the cool things that plastic helps to make that the average person normally overlooks, such as the plastic tubing used in the process of making perfume bottles or even the plastic tubing used to cover light-bulbs to prevent the glass from falling to the ground if it were to shatter. The students learned all about the thermoplastics laminates that are made at the Mickleton plant including rods, tubes, plates and sheet plastic along with many other Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics products. 

(The photo above, of students holding a plastic tube, shows the tubing made at this plant that would be used to cover any form of tubed lighting, typically found in schools, classrooms or restaurants. The film would be heated in a shrink-wrap like fashion to cover the light bulb. Then, if the bulb were to ever break, it would prevent the glass from falling to the ground! )

After going through a tour of the plant, a few select employees across various functions had the opportunity to speak to the students. Each employee shared their career journey, struggles and also gave very valuable advice to the Youthbuild class of 2015. Each employee’s speech detailed a different journey with different struggles, yet was the motivational, inspirational and moving impact they had did not change. 

This turned out to be very beneficial to the students, because of the Q&A opportunity that followed for students to ask questions and gain some insight for themselves and their futures.

The Youthbuild Philadelphia Charter school’s class of 2015 had an incredibly fun-filled day at the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant in Mickleton! First manufacturing plant: SUCCESS! Where to next, Youthbuild Philadelphia?!

Jessica Floersch
Communications, Saint-Gobain




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2015 YOUTHBUILD WORCESTER – 1st Quarter Highlights

The New Year kicked off at YouthBuild Worcester with 42 students signing up for Mental Toughness in January 2015.  By the second Monday in February, 16 new students were selected to join this year’s group.  During Mental Toughness students had to write an essay on why they wanted to be in YouthBuild, take three math, reading and writing exams, learn the YouthBuild pledge, and show a willingness to be a part of the YouthBuild philosophy.   Students were required to meet high standards, like being on time each day at 9:00 am.  Failure to meet these standards meant losing an opportunity to attend the YouthBuild Program. This was a grueling process, and the students who made it into YouthBuild had to work hard to earn their spot.

YB student Nelson Cruz said, “YouthBuild Mental Toughness was hard, but it was also fun to meet new people, and learn more about the YouthBuild program.  Francis (YouthBuild Worcester Instructor) has high expectations of us, and respects us for who we are.  He encouraged me to come here every day, and I was very happy to find out that I made it into the YouthBuild Program.” Nelson has continued to have perfect attendance even after Mental Toughness, and is scheduled to take his High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) in May of 2015.


YB student Taisha Colon said, “Mental Toughness wasn’t the hardest part of getting into YouthBuild. It was all the testing! I had to take three math tests!  At that point, I knew that this program was for real, and that I was going to have to work really hard in order to do well. It was scary at first because I didn’t know if I could do it…if I could come every day and put in the effort needed to succeed at YouthBuild. But my Case Manager Doug told me how proud of me he was every day. It felt good to have a teacher care about me. I really hope I graduate in 10 months; that would be a really big deal! If you knew me you would understand that this is a really big deal in my life.” Representing TRA, Taisha recently spoke about her YouthBuild experience at a YWCA event.  She, too, is scheduled to take the HISET in May.

Following Mental Toughness, YouthBuilders earned their OSHA 10 licences, and are now working towards obtaining their Nationally Recognized PACT certificates in Construction.

Worksite Supervisor/ Trainer Jerry Siplas trains Savannah Polinski and Gabe Rodriguez

Gabriel Rodriguez

Rosemarie Ramos

This year, Worcester YouthBuild is partnering with Main South Community Development Corporation (MSCDC) to rehab a one-bedroom unit located at 898 Main Street which will be rented to a low-income individual and a sustainable gut rehab of a 14,000 square foot, fire-damaged apartment building located at 1 Kilby Street which will be transformed into 9 apartments for low-income families and veterans.


1 Kilby Street, Worcester, MA


Akiana Molina and Taisha Colon in front of 1 Kilby

898 Main Street, Worcester, MA












YouthBuild Worcester also hosted visits from Massachusetts State Senator/Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler and Massachusetts State Representatives Mary Keefe and James O’Day at the YouthBuild classroom. The Legislators wanted to learn more about YouthBuild Worcester, share their support for the program, and speak with the students about the importance of voting and being a strong voice in their community.

State Rep. Mary Keefe

State Senator Harriette Chandler

State Rep. James O’Day

Along with members of the Massachusetts YouthBuild Coalition, YouthBuild Worcester students visited the Statehouse on March 19th, meeting with legislators to advocate for all the YouthBuild programs in Massachusetts.  Worcester YB student Marcus Diaz gave the following speech in the House Chambers.

Marcus Diaz

Hi, my name is Marcus Diaz.  I am a student at the Worcester YouthBuild Program.  I joined YouthBuild last year because I was unable to pass my MCAS test while attending the Worcester Public Schools.  YouthBuild gave me an opportunity to continue my education and to learn construction.  When I was in the Public Schools I had some great teachers who really cared about me, BUT I had many others who did not.  Many teachers gave up on me because I couldn’t read and write up to their standards.  They knew that I would never be able to pass the MCAS test.  In many ways, they just stopped teaching me.”

“YouthBuild is much different.  My first day at YouthBuild, I was welcomed with open arms.  They had me take a TABE test, and told me just to try my best and not to worry.  My test scores were very low.  I tested in at 3rd grade in both Math and Reading.  I was worried that YouthBuild would quit on me, just like everyone else had.  But they didn’t quit on me, they continued to challenge me. My instructor at YouthBuild, Francis, had me attend Math class twice a day, had me reading books, and writing essays.  I put in the work, and when YouthBuild re-tested me I tested at an 8th grade level in both math and reading!”

“YouthBuild believed in me, and now I believe in myself. It’s true that I have an IEP and difficulty learning.  But I am not defined by that, I am defined by how hard I work, and how I treat others! I am taking my HiSET exam in April – I might not pass.  But that’s OK, because I know that YouthBuild has my back; that YOU ALL have my back and that one day I will pass my HiSET.  I will go into the Union and I will accomplish all of my goals. We need more money for YouthBuild, so they can continue to help people like you and me!” 


Senator Harriette Chandler gave Worcester YB students a personal tour of the Senate Chambers.




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YouthBuild Philadelphia Tours CertainTeed Research and Development Center

YouthBuild Philly students took a tour of CertainTeed’s newest renovated research and development facility-the Malvern Innovation Center (MIC). The students started out the day with an introduction from Narendar Yeshwanth, Vice President of R&D for CertainTeed roofing. Narendar welcomed the students and presented an overview of the MIC, followed by a safety briefing before the tours.

Narendar Yeshwanth, VP of R&D-CertainTeed roofing welcoming students to the Malvern Innovation Center.

More than 20 YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School students saw a duct board demonstration, networked with CertainTeed researchers, and had a first-hand look at the labs that serve CertainTeed’s insulation, roofing and ceilings businesses.

Chuck Fisher, CertainTeed Analytical Laboratory Supervisor, conducting a lab tour.

RC Antal, Sales District Manager-CertainTeed Insulation conducting the duct board demonstration for students






Students were given the opportunity to network with employees during lunch. Employees answered student questions and shared their career journeys.

YouthBuild and Saint-Gobain team.

Please check back to for more updates with Saint-Gobain and Youthbuild!

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Saint-Gobain and YouthBuild Philly Partner Together for Thanksgiving Donations and a Day of Service

We braved the cold for another fun volunteer event with YouthBuild Philly and Saint-Gobain employees! However, this wasnt your typical volunteer day.

Collectively, Saint-Gobain and YouthBuild collected approximately 20 boxes of canned and boxed food donations to give to the Nicetown Community Development Corporation’s food cabinet. The students and Saint-Gobain employees not only sought to renovate two homes in the community, but also contribute to serving the community for Thanksgiving.

 Saint-Gobain employees worked side-by-side with YouthBuild Philly on the 2006 and 2008 Wingohocking Street project, in the Nicetown area of the city. Employees assisted students with  installing CertainTeed’s fencing and  framing of walls and windows. As team we are better together! We had a ton of fun, and we look forward to more success on Wingohocking Street.
Have a great holiday, everyone!
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