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 youth ages 16-24 that have left high school without a diploma or are unemployed enroll full-time for 6-24 months. They work toward their GED or high school diploma while building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people. Caring adult staff emphasizes personal responsibility, mutual support, and leadership development.
Since 1994, more than 100,000 YouthBuild students have produced 20,000 units of low-income housing in America’s poorest communities. They go on to college or jobs in the construction industry and many earn AmeriCorps education awards for their service in the community.
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 (“genius”) 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 the first YouthBuild in 1978 in East Harlem.
She then orchestrated the process of scaling up this proven social innovation city-wide, then nationally, and then internationally.