Steven is a bright 18-year-old student who derailed in school when he was 14 years old. He started missing classes, and staying home. His parents seemed unmotivated and unable to get him to school. By the time Steven was 15, he was so far behind academically that he felt there was no way to catch up. That was when he dropped out altogether. He expressed several times to friends that he really wanted to go back to school, but the situation seemed hopeless.
Steven joined the Cloud and Fire YouthBuild in September, 2009, and has become a star student! The smaller, individualized environment encourages him to ask questions. For him, the fact that other students his age were behind in high school was an encouragement, and helped him focus on moving forward. Steven is diligent in his studies, and is one of the first in his class to pass both the English and Math components of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). He is also part of the Cloud and Fire YouthBuild track team, and as part of that, just ran the Los Angeles Marathon!
Steven has turned a corner academically and personally. He has not only found new inspiration in school, but has gained confidence because of what he has learned on the YouthBuild jobsite. He is utilizing his construction skills to build housing for homeless women and children who reside at Hope Gardens, a long-term facility for homeless women and children. The facility is operated by the Union Rescue Mission, and Steven knows that what he is doing is helping those who have lives far worse than his. He knows that his contribution is an important and life-changing one.
Cloud and Fire is located in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, in a high crime, gang-affected community. The local high school has a 76% dropout rate, and most families have an annual household income of less than $20,000. In 2009 CFM launched the first San Fernando Valley YouthBuild program.