BI-CAP’s YouthBuild program works with youth, ages 16-24 who have left the traditional school system. The program provides an opportunity for youth to spend 29 hours per week in academics, leadership development, and construction training.

YouthBuild participants work four days a week earning the state minimum wage. They are divided into two teams and alternate each day between the classroom and the construction site. Cass Lake Bena ALC is BI-CAP YouthBuild’s educational partner. They provide an onsite Teacher/Learner Manager to assist participants in working toward their high school diploma. They also provide teaching staff through Adult Basic Education to prepare those participants more suited to earning their GED or Adult Diploma equivalency.

Participant responsibilities include completing secondary education, job skills building, work experience, leadership and service learning projects. Under the service learning component, participants spend a portion of their time learning how to make home repairs as they maintain transitional homes owned by BI-CAP. Other service learning/community service activities include: maintaining a 2-mile stretch of Adopt-A-Highway on Highway 71 north, ringing bells for The Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, filling and distributing backpacks and duffel bags for low-income members and foster children in the community, and more.

YouthBuild participants build a work history while learning to work with a team of staff and peers. While building with construction staff, participants may learn valuable skills such as appropriate work behavior, communication, safety on the jobsite, how to use power and hand tools, how to take measurements and read a blueprint. Participants also have the opportunity to work with a Placement Advisor while building a resume, performing skills assessments, exploring colleges and careers, and learning about soft skills and work ethics. They can also learn how to fill out a job or college application, how to file for financial aid, and receive interview coaching and assistance with their job search.

A Life Skills Specialist provides help to youth to identify and meet their social service needs and teaches them to be more self-sufficient. This may include, helping them acquire a driver’s permit/license, finding daycare, applying for housing, budgeting, and tax preparation. Participants also have the opportunity to hear from speakers from agencies in the community on subjects such as mental health, housing renter’s rights and responsibilities, and substance abuse. BI-CAP YouthBuild staff work closely with these agencies in order to provide participant youth with additional information, support, and resources beneficial to their chances of success.


  • In addition to working on-the-job, youth spend time in the classroom being educated on related leadership development activities such as learning the skills to conduct a presentation, getting ready for a job, and service learning.
  • Participants earn a nationally recognized NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) certification where they can acquire knowledge in the field of construction. They can also earn certifications in CPR/1stAid, OSHA, CNA, and others.
  • The Youth Policy Committee works with the Program Manager and staff to guide the program. Together, policies are developed, issues are discussed, activities are planned, and procedures defined.
  • Youth receive a living stipend for the hours they participate in YouthBuild.
  • YouthBuild covers many things as a youth development program. It provides youth the opportunity to finish their education, earn some money, receive job training and gain valuable work experience while building and rehabilitating homes for their community.
  • YouthBuilders work with staff to deal with personal issues, identify and overcome barriers to succeed at school and work, provide the necessary skills for a particular job or career, and individually develop the ability to guide, direct, and influence people. YouthBuilders use the leadership development plan as a guide to follow while in the program. This helps them identify achievable goals, break them down into action steps, and set a date to accomplish them.

Program Eligibility

An individual may participate in the BI-CAP YouthBuild program if the individual:

1. is between the ages of 16 and 24 on the date of enrollment; and

2. is a school dropout, or an individual who was a school dropout and has subsequently re-enrolled, and one of the following:

3. a member of a low-income family, or a youth in foster care (including youth aging out of foster care), or an offender, or a youth who is an individual with a disability, or a child of an incarcerated parent, or a homeless youth, or a migrant youth; and

NOTE: Up to, but not more than, 25 percent of the participants in the program may be youth who do not meet criteria 2 or 3 above, but they must:

• be basic skills deficient, despite attainment of a high school diploma or its state recognized equivalent; or

• have been referred by a local secondary school for participation in a YouthBuild program leading to the attainment of a high school diploma or its state recognized equivalent.

NOTE: Male participants aged 18 or older must register for the U.S. Selective Service System ( before services can be provided. If they turn 18 while participating, they must register at that time.

YouthBuild follows Veterans’ Priority of Service for Participants Title 38 U.S.C. 4215 which requires the program to provide priority of service to veterans and spouses of certain veterans for the receipt of employment, training, and placement services in any job training program directly funded, in whole or in part, by DOL.

Applicants must be willing to make at least a 6 month commitment and must reside in either Cass or Beltrami County. In order to apply for the program, all applicants need to submit a YouthBuild application, verification to prove eligibility as stated in questions 1 – 3 above, school transcripts, picture ID and Social Security card. Note: A receipt from Social Security application is acceptable until the new card is received. Income verification information is commonly used to qualify as low-income in question #3. Examples would be documentation of qualifying for free/reduced lunch from previous school, MFIP, most recent tax documents or other proof of low-income eligibility. All applicants under the age of 18 will need parent/guardian signature for enrollment paperwork. Students will receive a call for invitation to our mandatory weeklong orientation and those that best fit program criteria will be chosen to participate.


  • The YouthBuild movement began in 1978 when founder Dorothy Stoneman formed the Youth Action Program in East Harlem, NY. Stoneman’s efforts initiated youth involvement in their community and taught them valuable work experience skills with a vision to “break the cycle of poverty.” To see the full history and information regarding YouthBuild, visit:
  • BI-CAP YouthBuild started in 1989 as a state funded pilot program to provide specialized education/training and work experience for youth that were not successful in the current educational system. It was one of three programs in MN and the only rural site. MN was the first state to fund a program following the YouthBuild model. This makes BI-CAP YouthBuild one of the oldest running programs out of a coalition of 260 urban and rural YouthBuild programs in 46 states. There are also 80 programs now running internationally.
  • Ten youth were enrolled when the program received funding. They were paid the federal minimum wage for 10 hours a week during the school year and 25 hours a week during the summer months. They could earn a raise of 10 cents an hour for each credit they earned for school.
  • BI-CAP YouthBuild is an affiliated program under YouthBuild USA, Inc (formed in 1990). In 1991 BI-CAP received their first federal YouthBuild grant through HUD funding and adopted the YouthBuild USA model. YouthBuild USA provides the program with valuable oversight and training to ensure the vision and mission of YouthBuild is practiced. This also allows BI-CAP YouthBuild to proudly display the same YouthBuild logo.
  • Youth have rehabilitated transitional housing in both Cass and Beltrami Counties and have built new homes for first time home buyers.
  • Since 1989, approximately 600 youth have been through BI-CAP YouthBuild’s doors.

Application Instructions

If interested in applying, print off the application/transcript request form below and return the completed forms to the address listed at the bottom of the application. Completed applications are held up to one year for upcoming enrollment openings.

Orientation dates are tentative based on funding. A phone call and orientation invite will be extended to the potential participant before acceptance into the program. To find out when the next orientation may be, or for other questions, contact:

Chris Mack – Program Manager (218) 333-9868 or

Betsy Skime – Records Technician (218) 333 -9836

To fax transcripts or school information: (218) 444-9550 or scan and email to

Printable Program Application