Building Skills Transforming Lives

Rancho Cielo Youth Corps

  • Youth Corps Irrigation
  • Youth Corps Gardening

Our Rancho Cielo Youth Corps is an on-the-job training program serving young people, 18–24, to be prepared for regular full time employment. Our crews learn through their involvement in a variety of construction projects that teach everything from work ethics to complex construction skills. They are employed by Rancho Cielo during their tenure in the Youth Corps.

This program is critical to the cultural change we are trying to affect, providing youth with positive opportunities to learn new skills and self-sufficiency.

More than 200 at-risk youth have participated in this vocational training program since its inception in 2008. Rancho Cielo Youth Corps gives these youth, many of whom are gang affiliated, the opportunity to learn job skills while being compensated for their work. Referrals for participation come from the court system as an alternative to incarceration, from the Probation Department, from educators, from the Department of Health or from others. We are the primary employment program for AB-109 youth, aged 18-24, referred to us by the Probation Department via a contract with the Community Corrections Partnership.

Program Design

Youth Corps members work between 30-40 hours a week and are evaluated weekly by their supervisor, who has worked his way into that position, as well as the Program Director and the Case Manager. The first week is non-paid and voluntary. If a member can obtain a satisfactory evaluation, s/he is invited to join a crew, and will be paid minimum wage.

Crews work on paid projects for public and private clients, representing Rancho Cielo and gaining self-esteem through their work in the community. During this time, the youth participate in resume writing and interview skills workshops; sessions with Monterey County Behavioral Health; and many other opportunities, all designed for job readiness and job retention.

The Ranch Crew maintains the Ranch property, mowing, repairing broken plumbing, completing minor repairs on campus, learning while they work. Much of the learning is in getting to work on time, dressing appropriately, and learning how to behave in a professional work environment. We also invest significant time in safety training.

We have a contract with the City of Salinas to repair broken sidewalks. A crew of four plus a leader/concrete trainer replace sidewalks long awaiting repair. The graduates from this advanced crew are easily employed by construction firms upon completing their assignment.

At the conclusion of this 6 month training period, the member is eligible for referrals for regular full-time employment. The Rancho Cielo Youth Corps builds a bridge for at-risk youth who might be difficult to employ, giving them the necessary skills to allow them to be satisfactory regular full-time employees. A job referral from Rancho Cielo tells a potential employer that the crew member is job-ready. This vocational training is the heart of what we do at Rancho Cielo.

Many of our participants get back on track to college. We are so proud of our young people who enroll at Hartnell College to take Blue Print Reading, Construction, Electricity, and other classes.

What are our results?

Within 6 months of completing the Youth Corps program, 82.6% of the youth DID NOT re-offend; within 12 months of completing the Youth Corps program, 77.6% of the youth DID NOT re-offend.

An often-quoted study out of the Florida Department of Justice indicates that 43% recidivism reduction is the “norm” for this population; that more than half re-offend within 12 months.

This would indicate that our success at reducing recidivism is ALMOST TWICE the “control” group.

We Need Paid Projects!

In order to sustain this very successful program, we need paid work appropriate for our crews. The crews are trained and closely supervised. Rancho Cielo has workers’ compensation insurance and liability insurance. Previous projects have included demolition, construction, painting, and landscape clearing. We have a fully-equipped woodshop for furniture building or repair. Satisfied clients include: CHISPA, Monterey County Parks and Recreation, Monterey County Probation Department and the City of Salinas.

If you or your business has a project need for any manner of construction, demolition or landscape maintenance, please consider hiring the Rancho Cielo Youth Corps.

Be sure to check out the furniture that the Youth Corps builds as part of their supervised vocational training.


Apply to Rancho Cielo Youth Corps

For more information please contact Aaron Palacios by phone at (831) 737-9490, or through the contact form.

To apply online, click here.

To download an application, click here.

Youth Corps in the News

ADD LINKS TO RELATED NEWS ARTICLES HERE – Watsonville pajaronian article about the community garden

Grid Alternatives piece recently (Californian?)

Change Your Future: Apply to Rancho Cielo’s Construction Academy