YouthBuild Newark/Newark Leadership Academy
"We have to provide our students with an opportunity to believe that anything is possible. We do that by giving them the right tools."
Robert Clark is the founder and executive director of YouthBuild Newark, a community service, job-training, and pre-apprenticeship program where low-income young people can also work toward a GED or high school diploma. YouthBuild Newark is the local partner of YouthBuild USA.
Clark is the first YouthBuild graduate to found a YouthBuild program. A graduate of YouthBuild Boston and Public Allies, he has over 18 years of experience in youth development and organizational development. Prior to founding YBN, Robert served as a Technical Assistance Contractor for YouthBuild USA – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) national technical assistance provider. As a result of his experience, Robert has lent his expertise to the local education authority to help create a long-term strategy for alternative education and comprehensive high schools that can appropriately meet non-traditional youth's needs.
In September 2011, YouthBuild Newark launched the Newark Leadership Academy, an alternative vocational high school to serve over-aged, under-credited 16 to 20 year-old youth and young adults. NLA draws upon YBN's proven youth development model for at-risk, high risk, and/or out-of-school youth achievement and offers students a customized academic setting augmented by support services. In addition, it offers specific career development learning experiences for students that makes school relevant to their daily lives.
As part of Newark Public Schools, Newark Leadership Academy works to recover students who are at risk of dropping out or already have. The model is designed for disconnected students. It allows for flexibility in curriculum design, credit attainment/proficiency assessment, and address the socio-emotional supports that they frequently need.