YouthBuild Philly Update: Wingohocking Street is Near Completion!

YouthBuild Philly here, reporting live from the 215!   We’re excited to share  that the 2006 and 2008 W. Wingohocking street project  is wrapping up! We are getting closer and closer to completion and that LEED platinum status!

Here’s what we’ve been up to….

The plumbing and electrical systems are now installed.  Whew!

Next up is the duct board. If you guys remember from a previous post, YouthBuild Philly students participated in a duct board demonstration which took place at the Saint-Gobain Malvern Innovation Center.

CertainTeed provided the material and educated us on the value of installing duct board, which is not only to achieve LEED status, but also for the comfort of the new homeowners. Because of this product we are hoping to help the homeowners save money on their heating and air-conditioning bills.

We are so excited to finish these sustainable green homes for the Nicetown community.

Alright guys, enough of this. We’re getting back to work!

Check back soon to see what we’re up to next on Wingohocking Street!



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St. Louis YouthBuild: The Next Generation

For the first time, Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed had the opportunity to partner with St. Louis and Columbia YouthBuild on an insulation and career development training program.

Representatives from Saint-Gobain, CertainTeed and Goley Insulation, Inc. provided a hands-on insulation training for 20 St. Louis and Columbia YouthBuild students in order to introduce energy efficiency and sustainability practices into a developing market for CertainTeed insulation installers.

The three-day training was designed to build a pipeline for the next generation of CertainTeed insulation installers. Not only did the students receive hands-on training, they were taught the skills needed to land a job in the industry.


Day one of the training students learned resume writing skills and practiced their interview skills during mock interview sessions with CertainTeed employees. 


During days 2 and 3, students worked with CertainTeed trainers and Goley, Inc. to install three types of CertainTeed insulation on a distressed home.

Once the training was complete, students received a certificate of completion and walked away with the confidence and hands-on experience  needed to land a job as an insulation installer.





Talk about a great opportunity for these young people. We congratulate you all on completing the training.

Readers, what advice would you give YouthBuild students in preparation for the job search?

Please let us know in the comments below!

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Raising the Roof, Literally!

A message from Project Rebuild:

Hi everyone! We are Project Rebuild. Saint-Gobain’s newest YouthBuild affiliate based in Canton, OH. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Saint-Gobain and its family of companies. We are hoping to make our first project LEED Platinum….that’s right, we’re going big or going home! Stay tuned for more on our project located on 1714 Frazer Ave NW, Canton, OH 44703.

Everybody on 3! 1…2…….3… YOUTHBUILD! 

-Project Rebuild

Now onto our regularly scheduled program…. 

When Project REBUILD in Canton, Ohio started thinking about a project as part of the Saint-Gobain  and YouthBuild partnership, we found a perfect one that included a natural skylight (or also known as a big ol’ hole in the roof).

After the initial demolition was complete, in early October we hosted our FIRST design charrette with partners, students, neighbors and community supporters.  After hearing from CertainTeed building scientist Lucas Hamilton, our LEED Rater and charrette facilitator Pam Pierce, led the group through the LEED checklist.

Our team is committed to working toward LEED platinum status!

A few weeks later AND lots of discussions later, it looks like the roof may be coming off and a new one going on.

A BIG thanks to CertainTeed for the donated roofing material. We can’t wait to raise da roof!

In the coming weeks, a group of us are going on a road trip to Washington, DC for the International Greenbuild conference to learn more about materials, green construction and energy efficient practices we can use for the project.

What should our students look forward to at the conference? Comment below!

Stay tuned for our next post!


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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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