In Birmingham, Alabama, U.S., a new kind of school is paving a pathway for young graduates to potentially own a house at the age of 20 or 21. Build UP (Urban Prosperity) Birmingham moves incoming freshmen through a program to earn a high school diploma and associates degree while training as construction workers through paid apprenticeships. Founding the program in 2018 for kids living in poverty, educator Mark Martin hoped to nurture a pathway to address larger societal challenges on a neighborhood level. Students in the program learn to remodel houses in the blighted neighborhood where they live. After two years in the program, they can move into the home, and after getting a job, transferring to a bachelor's degree, or starting their own business, they can get a no-interest loan to buy the house themselves. Along the way, they get a stipend of $125-200 weekly, as they learn to remodel homes. Many school subjects, like geometry, get applied into the construction. "There’s nothing that builds hopefulness and agency like being a change agent in your own community," Martin said. "You’re walking past blight, day in day out when on your way home from school, and driving past it, and then all of a sudden, one day, you take that blighted yard that nobody’s touched in years, and you clear all that blight, and you make it a catalyst for more change in that community."

Read Full Story