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.

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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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My Letter to the YouthBuild Philly Graduates

As a Saint-Gobain employee, I can personally say that attending the YouthBuild Philly graduation ceremony put into perspective for me not only how our company contributes to the lives of these amazing preserving students, but also what these students contribute to us as employees and partners. 

Students and family gathering outside of the YouthBuild graduation at Zion Baptist church.

 This was my first YouthBuild graduation. I expected it to be like every other graduation ceremony I’ve attended, but boy was I wrong. There were laughs, tears, celebration, dancing, preaching and a lot of joy, support and pride in the room.

During the graduation ceremony a few students shared their individual stories about homelessness, death, young parenthood and the struggle to balance these life situations and education. Me being the big baby that I am, the tears started to flow. I was moved.

As a company we provide students with expertise, product and time, but nothing compares to what the students have provided us. These students have shown me that you can be whatever you want to be. I know, that sounds cliché, but it’s true.

I feel the most fulfilled at work when I interact with the students at YouthBuild. Whether it’s in Philly, Akron, Schenectady or Worcester, these students are fighters and share a common thread…tenacity. I thank the YouthBuild students for sharing their stories. You guys will change the world. You are changing the world.

Your life is a testament, no matter how big or small the story, you have the ability to affect change and to move others by just sharing.

Never forget the tough environment you’ve outgrown. It made you, but it didn’t break you. You are able to face the challenges ahead of you knowing that you overcame something that a lot of your future peers and colleagues wouldn’t last a day in. Stay focused and driven. Congratulations to all of the YouthBuild Philly graduates.


 - Felicia Melvin, Communications Specialist for Saint-Gobain 

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YouthBuild and Saint-Gobain’s FIRST Scientist in the Classroom session

On August 7, 2014, Saint-Gobain Corporation and Worcester YouthBuild launched a new pilot program called “Scientists in the Classroom”.  The program is designed to bring a new level of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) training to YouthBuild students, as well as to provide Saint-Gobain scientists and engineers with the opportunity to share their expertise in a volunteer capacity within the classroom setting.

Chris Comeaux and Suresh Annavarapu, two scientists from Saint-Gobain’s Research & Development facility in Northboro, gave the first lesson which involved calculating an area and estimating the cost of a job.  Students were asked to quote a job for tiling the YouthBuild classroom. Exercises involved the following:

  • Step 1:  Calculate the area

–     Add some circle and rectangle areas that don’t need tiling

–     Measure the room

–     Choose a tile

–     How many boxes do you need?

–     How much will the tiles cost?


  • Step 2:  Estimate the entire job

–     How long will demo take?

–     How much prep time?

–     Any other materials needed?

–     How long to install the tile?

–     Any finish work?

–     Any other materials?

–     What is your total time?

–     What is your labor rate?

–     Is there a safety factor?

–     What could happen that could cause you to lose money on the job?

This topic involved a lot of math which is the least favorite subject for YouthBuild students.  As student Pedro Vazquez-Calderon expressed, “The scientists from Saint-Gobain made the lesson really fun and interesting.  I learned a lot from this lesson and it made me realize how important science and math really are to our construction project.”

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Saint-Gobain, YouthBuild Worcester and Matthew 25 Gather for an Employee Volunteer Day Celebration

A team of Saint-Gobain employees left their offices and picked up their hard hats for a day of service in support of YouthBuild Worcester and Matthew 25, on 3 Benefit Terrace Street

Saint-Gobain employees rolled up their sleeves and worked with students to install CertainTeed’s gypsum board and siding products, while providing their expertise to help renovate a previously dilapidated multifamily home in Worcester.

Enjoy the video below for a full recap of the event and share with us, in the comments below, your favorite moments!

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Saint-Gobain and YouthBuild Schenectady Complete First LEED Gold Home Renovation [Video]

Hey everyone! Check out the short video below for a look at the ribbon cutting celebration that took place on Emmett Street in Schenectady, NY. Saint-Gobain in partnership with YouthBuild Schenectady completed it’s first LEED Gold renovation project. Also, there is a first look at the next Saint-Gobain and YouthBuild Schenectady project on 323 Schenectady Street.

Be sure to check back here at for more updates on the Saint-Gobain partnership with YouthBuild!



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The morning of Tuesday, June 24, 2014 was not a typical one in the Main South neighborhood of Worcester as residents awoke to a buzz of energy and excitement in the air.  Staff and students from Worcester YouthBuild (WYB), Training Resources of America’s (TRA) corporate office, employees of Saint-Gobain, representatives from Matthew 25, and City officials all gathered at the YouthBuild worksite located at 3 Benefit Terrace.

The Volunteer Service Day was designed to celebrate the partnership between Worcester YouthBuild (operated by TRA), Saint-Gobain, and Matthew 25 with 35 local Saint-Gobain employees joining Worcester YouthBuild students as they continue their substantial gut rehab of a 2-family home that will be rented to low-income families when it is completed this fall.

The day kicked off with breakfast and registration.  YB students and SGC volunteers mingled and talked about where they are from and why they were at the event.  It was a great chance for everyone to get to know each other. Both Worcester YouthBuild students and Saint-Gobain-CertainTeed employees benefited from their interactions.  As YouthBuild student Glen Waller said, “I had a chance to speak with a representative from the HR Department at Saint-Gobain today.  I told her who I was and that I wanted to work for Saint-Gobain after YouthBuild.”

After breakfast, students and volunteers gathered around for the ceremonial remarks and pep rally.  Mike Quigley, TRA-Worcester YouthBuild Program Director, served as emcee, followed by remarks from TRA President/ CEO Kim Harmon; Brad Johnson, SGC’s Vice President, Abrasives North America and Bonded Abrasives Worldwide; Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus; Reverend Fred Enman, Founder and Director of Matthew 25; and Patrick Madison, Worcester YouthBuild student who led his fellow YouthBuilders in the WYB pledge.

Mike Quigley and WYB Instructor Francis DeAngelo announced the students as they got the crowd pumped up for the event.  A local DJ kept the positive vibe going all day.  Neighbors, especially the children, joined in periodically throughout the day, enjoying the excitement and the positive activities in their neighborhood. As YB student Patrick Madison said, “It was a great day, an important day. Important because it improved a community, and displayed all the good that can happen when three great organizations work together. The children on Benefit Terrace will always remember YouthBuild as a positive part of their life, and that’s why we do what we do.”


After the rally and safety training, the group was divided into four teams of students and SGC volunteers.  The teams worked on various projects throughout the house including installation of CertainTeed siding and gypsum provided by Saint-Gobain Corporation/ CertainTeed.  While working side-by-side with the volunteers from Saint Gobain, our students were able to get to know more about Saint-Gobain and the volunteers were able to learn more about the program and the students’ life stories.  “I met some great people today from the Saint-Gobain Corporation, said YB student Cynthia Medrano-Bueno. “I am very proud to be a part of this project at Mathew 25. Days like today help fix communities, this house will be home to two families. I remind myself of that while I work, and I am proud to be part of Worcester YouthBuild.”


With the exception of a short lunch break, work on the projects lasted through mid-afternoon. As things wound down, YouthBuild students and Saint-Gobain employees said their goodbyes.  Everyone that worked on the project walked away with not only a sense of accomplishment, but also with new friends.  YB student Jacob King summed up the sentiments of the project participants, “I had no idea what to expect today. But this was awesome! I met so many great people, and our message is clear. We are building this house to help this community, and we are learning great skills while doing it.”


Thanks to everyone for making this day a great success!

Link to the Worcester Magazine article!









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