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Meet Kya Kearney, one of 50 students who decided to take hold of his future by enrolling in United Way of Long Island’s YouthBuild program – class of 2016. This life-changing opportunity offers youth who are facing challenges a chance to rebuild their lives with hope and promise for a brighter tomorrow.

Kya traveled a long road before finding his seat in the YouthBuild classroom. Upon discovering that his father had kidney disease, Kya’s family decided to travel in a small RV, moving from trailer parks to campsites, in search of a medical cure. The struggles mounted when the RV became immobile and through no fault of his own, Kya found himself homeless. It was at this time that he made the decision to propel his life forward and further his education. When he learned about YouthBuild Long Island, he quickly applied – hopeful that this would be the path to help get his life together.

It was only in the first week of YouthBuild when he realized the impact that it would have on his life, “Mental Toughness week showed me what the program was all about. I learned that if I put in the work and effort, the staff and my classmates will always be there for me.” Kya 2nd Blog Cropped

Kya graduated from  YouthBuild in June of 2016 achieving both his TASC High School Equivlanecy and the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum certification issued by North Amreica's Building Trade Unions. YouthBuild has given Kya the hope and strength to believe in himself again.

Kya is currently employed at Winter Brothers Recycling at their recycling center locaed in West Babylon, applying all that he learned during his time in YouthBuild and building a successful career for himself.

The national average of young adults between the ages of 18-24 who are unemployed is approximately 18%, in high-needs communities like Wyandanch that figure jumps to almost 28%. YouthBuild Long Island helps young people secure financial stability through education, hands-on job training skills and career placement, as well as leadership development.