About Us » Who We Are

Who We Are

YouthBuild Charter School of California (YCSC) is a WASC-accredited project-based high school serving young people ages 16-24 who previously left or were pushed out of the traditional school system without a diploma. We work with YouthBuild programs to provide students with vocational training, counseling, leadership development and an authentic education leading to a diploma. 


YouthBuild Charter School of California was founded by Phil Matero based on his strong belief that all young people, regardless of their circumstances, should have access to a quality education that would prepare them to counter social inequalities and realize their full potential. The school was launched and continues to be supported by the national organization YouthBuild USA in response to California YouthBuild programs’ need for a robust high school diploma based education option for their students (instead of the GED.)  Our school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and authorized by the Inyo County Superintendent of Schools. 

We first opened our doors in September of 2008 to 265 students at three YouthBuild program sites in Los Angeles County. At the end of the first school year, 57 students graduated. By 2010, YouthBuild Charter School of California had expanded to incorporate YouthBuild programs outside of Los Angeles, to a total of eleven school sites across Los Angeles, Fresno, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and graduating 380 students at the end of the school year. Now entering our thirteenth year, YCSC has seventeen school sites and serves around 2,000 students a year. As of 2020, over 5,400 young people have graduated from YouthBuild Charter School of California. 

Graduates clap during the South LA site graduation

Re-engaging Disconnected Youth

In the United States, 5.5 million young people are considered "disconnected," meaning they are not in school nor are they working, according to the Opportunity Nation. Based on Opportunity Index data from 2019, 11.3% of California youth ages 16-24 met this definition of disconnected youth. YouthBuild Charter School of California seeks to re-engage these young people, offering them an opportunity to re-enroll in school, complete their credits, and graduate with a diploma, while also providing them with hands-on job training in construction, culinary arts, healthcare, and more. 

Authentic Education Through Community Action

In order to meet the unique needs of our students, YouthBuild Charter School of California uses a project-based, inter-disciplinary curriculum model that relies on authentic assessments and applied learning. Students are empowered to take what they learn in the classroom into their communities to promote social justice through volunteerism and advocacy. At the end of each trimester, YCSC students work together with teachers to create a culminating community action project. These projects have included a Health Fair in Lennox, adding fresh food options to a liquor store in East Los Angeles, and a Town Hall event in South LA calling for an end to sheriff violence in L.A. County jails.  

Unlike traditional schools that employ standardized curriculum and classroom practices that often disempower and alienate marginalized students, YCSC’s project-based approach allows young adults to take ownership of their education. In addition to providing a rigorous education, YCSC partners with local community-based organizations to provide students with counseling services, college preparation, leadership development, vocational training, and the unique opportunity to revitalize their communities while earning school credit by building low-income housing.

East LA students protesting during May Day


Our mission is to cultivate collaborative learning communities in which every student has the right to an authentic education, plays a meaningful role in creating positive social change, and becomes an active participant in working towards just conditions for all.


Our vision is that all young people, regardless of their circumstances, have access to an education that will prepare them to counter social inequities and realize their full potential. Our school empowers young people to transform themselves and become leaders in their communities. Our school is a haven of trust and respect, where students can prepare for success in careers, post-secondary education and life.

Norwalk students with teacher Sayaka Ponce hanging out at the Audubon Center at Debs Park