Following Mary Pat

First Lady Mary Pat Christie names Robert Clark, founder of YouthBuild Newark, her 2nd NJ Hero of 2012

photoAlt Today was a great event because not only did I get to name our next hero and meet some incredible people, but my daughter Sarah and her friend were able to join me on their day off from school.  I had the pleasure of naming Robert Clark, founder of YouthBuild Newark, my 2nd NJ Hero of 2012.  YouthBuild is a very unassuming storefront in downtown Newark, but what happens behind it's doors is nothing short of amazing.  The YouthBuild Newark program is based off the national YouthBuild model, which gives youth ages 16-24 a second chance at a new life.  The students coming into this program have somehow lost their way, be it dropping out of high school, incarceration, or other.  YouthBuild is an intensive year-long program that helps these students get their high school equivalency diploma while teaching them important life skills and the value of hard work.  When they leave this program, they not only carry their GED, but also a certificate for construction trades.  An incredible 83% of students who graduate from the program go on to be gainfully employed or to pursue their post-secondary education.  This is a place that gives these youth the hope that there is a better life for them down the road.  Sarah and I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with about 9 students from the school who make up their "Policy Council".  We were able to hear their stories about what brought them to YouthBuild, how it's changed their lives, and their hopes for the future.  Each and every student I spoke to today was a real inspiration.  Robert made the YouthBuild Newark program a reality in 2003 and with his dedicated staff has been changing the lives of young people in Newark ever since.  I thank him for all the hard work he does to help others in his community and throughout the state.  To learn more about YouthBuild Newark, please go to their website:  http://youthbuildnewarknj.org/