Life Skills & Mentoring

In our on-site classroom, students prepare for their GEDs, engage with guest speakers and learn valuable skills in communication, teamwork and more.

Many of our members have dealt with at least one of the following issues:

  • Poverty
  • Homelessness
  • Domestic problems
  • Lack of  life direction
  • Disabilities
  • Involvement with the criminal justice system

As a result of these and other challenges, our youth need additional support before they can be truly independent and successful.

Through a tough love approach, we equip young people to be responsible and professional. We do not dismiss youth who have emotional outbursts, struggle to follow directions or arrive late. Together, over time, we build their skills and responsibilities to ensure they’re ready to enter the workforce successfully and safely. Further, we our staff provides on-site career development and social supports – including therapy – to help our young people in multiple ways.

In addition, we partner with non-profits throughout Lake County to lead trainings and skill-building workshops in areas including:

Waukegan Fire Department came to YCC to train our young people in CPR. We bring in multiple community partners throughout the year for activities, training sessions and events.
  • Communication skills
  • Self-awareness
  • Goal-setting and planning
  • Overcoming roadblocks to success
  • Career-readiness
  • Anger management techniques
  • Substance abuse remediation
  • Parenting classes
  • Housing referrals
  • Financial management
  • Food and clothing donations

These life skills services are available to our young people for one-year post-graduation from the YouthBuild program, ensuring that our members can maintain a network of support.


Our young people have a specific mentor on our staff, board or within the community who supports their learning, development and life exploration. Mentors become an integral component in the success of youth, both in the program and out. Learn more about becoming a mentor.

In addition, each of our young people are supported by a network of adults through regular group activities, including guest speakers, programs in life skills, brown bag lunches with professionals and monthly outings to provide exposure to career fields and other caring adults.

We build a community around our young people. Each Thanksgiving, we host a potluck for our youth, staff and supporters. Construction manager Tom Berry deep-fries turkeys, and staff and students bring a dish to pass.