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The money is intended to stimulate community wealth-building through career development

Those who face barriers to turning their lives around — via construction and skilled trades — are getting additional help since Constructing Hope's pre-apprenticeship program is doubling its services with a newly funded program.

Thanks to a $300,000 award from Prosper Portland, the pre-apprenticeship training program will be expanding its construction training facility in Northeast Portland.SOURCE: CONSTRUCTING HOPE - New pre-apprenticeship construction trainees get to work in last years program.

Nonprofit Constructing Hope's new training center will help 200 participants annually, up from a current 100, enter construction careers with middle-class wages and defined benefits. The construction training is offered at no cost to unemployed community members.

Constructing Hope will complete funding of the $500,000 project through grants and community donations.

The expansion will support business equity in the community and certified Minority, Women-Owned and Emerging Small Business contractors and architects (MWESBs), and provide expanded storefront access to a meaningful community program.

"Construction is one of the few industries that will hire people with a criminal record," said Constructing Hope executive director Pat Daniels. "For communities of color who are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, this can be a life saver."

Constructing Hope provides 10-week construction training programs, placement services and career advancement support. Graduates enter construction apprenticeships that are pathways to careers as carpenters, laborers, roofers, electricians, iron workers, masons, painters, sheet metal workers, heavy equipment operators and HVAC technicians. Last year, Constructing Hope placed 83 graduates into employment with an average starting wage of $16.74 per hour.

Prior to entering the program these graduates faced barriers like a lack of work experience, little or no advanced education, experience with the criminal justice system and racial discrimination in the workplace.

"With a criminal background, Constructing Hope gave me opportunity I didn't think was possible," said Constructing Hope graduate Raleigh Morrison. "They've given me a whole new life."

With a resulting $26.85 per hour wage, Morrison's two sons followed his footsteps and are currently working together on a large concrete project.

The program works by helping participants move from building small projects like a complex sawhorse to capstone projects like tiny house construction. Participants get a head start toward employment with transportation support for their first job, driver's license assistance, professional certifications, tools, work boots and personal protective equipment. At the same time, they learn life skills like budgeting, personal goal setting and career development strategies.

By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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