Joe Youcha founded and serves as Director of Building To Teach, a train-the-trainer program for hands-on math instructors. Building To Teach reintroduces the building process as a context for math instruction. Started with funding from the Office of Naval Research and, national in scope, the program utilizes all of Joe’s experiences bringing more effective resources to young people who need math skills.
Growing up along the Hudson River in Rockland County, New York, Joe’s fascination with boats began when his dad brought home an eight-foot wooden sailboat. Joe studied Naval Architecture at the University of Michigan and earned a B.A. in History from Columbia College, Columbia University. He was trained as an architectural restoration carpenter in New York City and worked as a construction superintendent and project manager, eventually owning a construction company with his wife Jessica in Philadelphia.
Alexandria Seaport Foundation
In 1992, Joe helped start the boat building programs at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation (ASF). As ASF’s Executive Director from 1995 until 2010, Joe oversaw program development, as well as all the fundraising and management duties of the medium-sized, regional nonprofit organization. During those years, the Alexandria Seaport Foundation created experiential learning programs to teach young people math skills and work-readiness through the process of boat building. The workforce development/ wooden boat building apprenticeship served hundreds of the Washington, DC area’s most disadvantaged youth and evolved into both a job-based GED program and a certified pre-apprenticeship for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters union.
In 1997, Joe led the design group that developed Bevin’s Skiff, a small boat specifically designed as a teaching tool. To date, there have been over 2,000 of these boats built with kids. In 1998, with WoodenBoat magazine, Joe developed Family Boat Building: an international effort that has led to tens of thousands of families building their own boats.
United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC)
Joe developed a close relationship with the Carpenter’s Union while leading job-based GED program and a certified pre-apprenticeship instruction for UBC trainees. This led to Joe being a co-author of the Union’s math text and training materials. Joe now helps train the UBC math instructors who teach at over 230 training centers in the U.S. and Canada, as well as the Union administered Job Corps centers.
Joe also helped develop the UBC “Training Foundations” assessment class for new and incoming apprenticeship instructors; and directs the “Working With Numbers” program, which places instructors and apprentices from regional training centers into local schools to teach hands-on math workshops to middle and high school students.
Joe’s work with the Alexandria Seaport Foundation received recognition and commendation at the national, state and local level, including the White House, the Virginia Governor’s Office, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, and the Superintendent of Alexandria Public Schools. Joe has been named Washingtonian of the Year and is an Alexandria Living Legend and Non Profit Executive of the Year.
Joe was a Fellow at the Aspen Institute’s Workforce Development Initiative in 2009. He is also a Contributing Editor of Tools of The Trade Magazine, as well as a frequent writer for WoodenBoat magazine.