Career Technical Education Foundation to receive $1 million grant to expand High School Construction Training Program

Posted by: on Monday, May 7, 2018 at 10:52:00 am

The Career Technical Education Foundation Sonoma County has been approved for a $1 million grant from Tipping Point Community, a prominent Bay Area funder that fights poverty in the Bay Area, to support expansion of a successful local youth training program called the North Bay Construction Corps. The funding is part of their Emergency Relief Fund, established to support the North Bay’s recovery and rebuilding efforts following the devastating fires last year that damaged thousands of homes and businesses. 

The CTE Foundation and its partners in the Construction Corps program, the North Coast Builders Exchange and Sonoma Office of Education, announced the grant today noting that the funds will be used to enhance and expand the NBCC training program in response to the increased workforce needs of the building trades as the 4-county North Bay begins to rebuild. According to the CTE Foundation, the $1 million grant will be used to leverage and supplement the current support for the Construction Corps program in Sonoma County and will provide for expansion into other neighboring counties in the future.         

The North Bay Construction Corps is a 5-month training program that introduces high school seniors to careers and jobs in construction in various trades. The program, now in its second year, has proven to be a very successful model that currently includes two cohorts in Sonoma County comprised of 37 young men and women who are in their last semester of high school. The CTE Foundation will work with the North Coast Builders Exchange to develop and execute programs in Napa and Lake Counties, as well as coordinate expansion of an existing Mendocino County Construction Corps program that began earlier this year. Additional interest and funding has been pledged to support expansion into Marin County as well.

“It is so important to provide engaging opportunities that inspire the next generation of tradespeople,” says Barbie Richardson, Owner of Simpson Sheet Metal and CTE Foundation Board Member. “Construction Corps encourages high school students to explore in a hands-on environment how their interests can be leveraged to create a successful career in this industry.”

The five-month training program includes classes that meet one night a week and one Saturday a month and are exclusively taught by local construction industry representatives to give students a sampling of what it’s like to work in a variety of trades and to expose them to multiple employers.  Students learn the fundamentals of tool handling, safety, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, solar, and more. They also earn certifications in Forklift and Scissor Lift Operation, OSHA 10, and CPR/First Aid, giving them a significant advantage upon completion as they seek entry level work or further training such as an apprenticeship.

The program culminates in a 2-week Boot Camp during the summer that allows students to practice their skills and experience first-hand the day-to-day work life in the industry while earning a stipend. Along with trade-based technical skills, students learn soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, leadership, and working on deadlines, which are all applied throughout the program.

“A national survey of homebuilders conducted recently revealed a startling statistic, one that likely applies to the North Bay,” said Jeff Scott, President of the Builders Exchange. “For every five construction workers who will retire over the next several years, only one new worker is entering the field.  That is unsustainable.” Scott added that NCBE is enthusiastic about continuing its great partnership with the CTE Foundation which will lead to the Construction Corps concept expanding to other counties to lend support to industry workforce development goals.

In addition to funding the multi-county expansion of the program, the Tipping Point Emergency Relief Fund donation also provides funding to meet a local grant challenge to expand the program within Sonoma County. Local funders, Tony Crabb & Barbara Grasseschi, Morgan Family Foundation, Syar Foundation, and Bancroft Foundation have collectively donated $200,000 to be offered as a challenge match to the public. An additional $200,000 is needed to support the Sonoma County program through 2020. Fundraising is already underway, with commitments from the Engineering Contractors Association, BIA Bay Area, Charlie Palmer’s Pigs & Pinot Event, Windsor Education Foundation, and North Coast Builders Exchange.  The resulting support would potentially fund a total of eight cohorts, including four in Sonoma County, and serving up to 240 high school seniors.

As our community is faced with one of the largest disasters in its history, both public and private funding is needed to find ways to relieve the pains and rebuild the losses.  “For those not directly impacted by the fires, it might be easy to think of the tragedy that we faced last October as long past,” says Karen Fies, Director of Sonoma County Human Services and CTE Foundation Board Chair, “Yet there are thousands of displaced residents that want to go back to their homes, and the only way they can do that is if we have a strong workforce of Construction and trades professionals to put the pieces back together.”

For more information about the Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation and/or the North Bay Construction Corps, contact Kathy Goodacre, Executive Director, at kgoodacre@ctesonomacounty.org or call 707-708-7081.

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