With Prudential’s support, YouthBuild provides opportunity youth ‘something that nobody can physically take from you.’
Anthony Corrales is used to working through the night. He gets to his construction site at 10 p.m. and leaves after sunrise. Some days, he gets there at 4 a.m. and works through the early afternoon.
Despite the challenging hours, when you ask Corrales about it, he is energized: “I love my job. It’s everything.”
Corrales, now 20, grew up in Long Beach, California, and didn’t finish high school.
“In the place I was at in life, I was down, and people around me reflected that,” he says. His high school ultimately gave him the option to willfully expel himself, which he did.
There are about 4.9 million opportunity youth in the U.S.—young people between the ages of 16 and 24 neither in school nor working—who, like Corrales, never earned their high school diploma or its equivalent for a wide array of reasons. Many of these youth and their families are living at or below the poverty line, and are among the 40 percent of Americans who are struggling to meet at least one of their basic needs.
Without a high school diploma, Corrales had limited job options. This is where organizations like YouthBuild, a longtime Prudential partner, help fill a void and provide a pathway to economic stability. YouthBuild helped him finish his education and connected him to a stable job—a job made possible through PGIM Real Estate partners. The steady work allows Corrales to support his wife and his siblings.
Prudential and PGIM Real Estate have a long history of helping opportunity youth, committing more than $28 million to partner organizations over the last two decades. To help support the work of YouthBuild and similar efforts, Prudential is recognizing October as Opportunity Youth Month.
“Social programs like this that connect graduates from the program with some of our development partners who are engaged in construction activities make a lot of sense,” says Alfonso Munk, PGIM Real Estate’s Americas chief investment officer and head of Latin America. “For the communities we work with, we have to give back—beyond just making investments, we have to share responsibility for their success."
The success of those communities is bred by empowering people at the individual level.
“Many of the students come in with a sense of hopelessness, or they feel like nobody cares. You see that when you meet them,” says Dante King, who served as a mentor at YouthBuild, and who also landed a job created by a PGIM Real Estate development partner. “By the end of the program, they have a family here, they have people to look up to. They actually have people who care for them.”
For Corrales, YouthBuild gave him the chance to reclaim his education and gain skills needed for employment. “They present you with opportunities that would never otherwise be put on your plate,” he says.
Munk notes Prudential’s involvement is about more than giving back. Supporting YouthBuild is also about getting back. The partnership between PGIM Real Estate and YouthBuild was facilitated by Corporate Social Responsibility to drive both business and social impact. It’s a perfect example of Prudential being a purpose-driven company that focuses on making sure everyone has the opportunity to achieve financial security, including those that are financially vulnerable.
“We’re living in an era when people want to work for, do business with and invest in companies that have a sense of purpose,” Munk says. “The strategic collaboration between PGIM Real Estate and our development partners with YouthBuild helps give opportunity youth the education they need and offers them a means to provide for themselves and their families.”
YouthBuild’s effectiveness speaks for itself. Almost 75 percent of the program’s students obtain a high school degree, its equivalent or industry-recognized credentials.
“Education is something that nobody can take from you,” Corrales says.