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The Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth (HACE) is celebrating the success of the YouthBuild Elizabeth program, which helps young adults ages 16-24 earn both their high school equivalency diploma and trade skills, including national construction and medical certifications.  

Program participants can receive six months of classroom GED instruction, job placements, and support services. YouthBuild Elizabeth also offers onsite construction training, offsite medical programs, and other types of in-demand training. Those who earn national certifications can work as paid apprentices in their respective industries. 

HACE was the only organization New Jersey to receive a YouthBuild grant in May 2022 from the U.S. Department of Labor. The $1.5 million grant, the largest award possible, will positively impact the lives of approximately 84 young adults over a 40-month period.  

The YouthBuild Elizabeth overview video can be watched on HACE’s YouTube channel here 

Thirty students have enrolled in the program since it began in September 2022, and all are pursuing National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) certification. Several students have already secured full-time employment. 

“Our YouthBuild Elizabeth initiative has been another successful career-building program here at HACE,” Executive Director William D. Jones Nikea said. “Our YouthBuild Elizabeth director, and the whole YouthBuild team have worked alongside these young adults to empower and motivate them to strive for their dreams.”  

YouthBuild graduate Shalik Sims enrolled in the program in 2022 and achieved his dream of earning a high school diploma. “I tried several GED programs before finding YouthBuild, but it was here that I finally felt supported and motivated,” Sims said. “YouthBuild gave me the environment I needed to succeed, and I proudly earned my high school diploma in October 2023. It’s not just a program; it’s a community that believes in your potential.”  

YouthBuild participant Danielle Martin enrolled in 2022 and acquired national certifications such as OSHA 30, OSHA 10, and NCCER. Martin is now employed as a social worker at YouthBuild Elizabeth. “Being here is [a] great experience,” Martin said. “Everybody’s like a family, the staff, they love everybody, they’re here to help. Accountability is key.” 

 As a direct result of participation in the YouthBuild Elizabeth Program, 17 students are seeking their GED. Three of the 17 are fully completed, nine started classes on Jan. 19 and five are in pursuit. Eight students have attended the Certified Nursing Assistant course with B&M Consultants. Six of those students completed training and five of those have secured full-time employment at a senior rehabilitation center. The remaining student was hired full-time at Trinitas Regional Medical Center, RWJ Barnabas Health. 

“B&M Consultants is grateful to partner with HACE’s YouthBuild Elizabeth program to guide young adults to the medical industry,” said B&M Consultants Director Teresa Banks. “Our instructors are dedicated to assisting students with obtaining career goals and we are committed to providing the medical industry with certified nurse assistants.” 

For more information about HACE’s YouthBuild Elizabeth program, contact YouthBuild Elizabeth Director Nikea Young-Bagley at 908-965-2400 ext. 131 or visit www.hacenj.com/youthbuild. 


Photo Caption: YouthBuild students and staff confidently select professional attire at the Dress for Success event hosted by The Northern Chapter, setting the stage for success and professionalism in their academic and career journeys.