"...Through the COVID-19 public health crisis, we're working to continue our services through virtual workshops, promoting DIY projects in their own lives, creating new paid opportunities for apprentices, and helping graduates spend the Equity Awards they've earned. We've also established a $10,000 Emergency Fund to support apprentices and alumni through this and other employment and home life disruptions. In the meantime, we can't wait to get apprentices back on the build site as soon as it's safe to do so."
On her first day with her team, Destinee built and stood all the walls to a house. If she made a mistake, she learned how to fix it. Building a house gave her the kind of grit and sense of accomplishment that's tough to find in a classroom, regular job or on Snapchat. Throughout the semester, Destinee and her team went on field trips to places like the Opera's Scene Studio, or on a scavenger hunt at Lowe's to learn how to create a material take-off. When she experienced the sudden and violent death of a family member, unCommon Construction's staff and her fellow high school apprentices didn't give her a chance to become disengaged and potentially drop out. In her final survey, Destinee wrote, "Work is hard, but worth it," and that this experience taught her "self-discipline and understanding more than anything else."
unCommon Construction was founded in 2015 because no other organization (school, nonprofit or municipality) was providing rigorous, and in-depth youth development and skill training for high schoolers in a real-world learning environment, whether in New Orleans or elsewhere. unCommon Construction uses the build process to enhance learning and empower hard working high school students. One of the most significant ways they do that is through their selective apprenticeship program, in which students from different high schools join a team to earn hourly pay and school internship credit for building a house from start to finish in a semester. Through the process uCC apprentices gain skills, experience and confidence to lead the workforce after high school or college.
Raising $1,000 would extend unCommon Construction's transportation services with an additional bus route to make it faster and easier for apprentices to get to and from the worksite or various field experiences. $2,000 would expand their youth development curriculum through an additional after school session for Apprentice Crew Leaders, aimed at sharpening their skills and further developing their leadership before Saturday builds with novice apprentices and volunteers. $5,000 would provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), tool belts, steel toe boots and a set of personal hand tools for a year's worth of unCommon Construction Apprentices. In New Orleans, 5 years from now, unCommon Construction will expanded to partner with 10 high schools, building 6-8 houses per year, serving 100 New Orleans youth and engaging more than 1000 volunteers in Saturday build events. Additionally, they have begun to replicate their model for youth and workforce development in at least 2 new locations.