Hello all! With the start of the new fall semester, the Building Futures YouthBuild program has welcomed the first of two cohorts for the 2015-2016 academic year. In true Building Futures fashion, the new group has hit the ground running with an intensive 16 weeks of GED preparation, test taking and an overall academic pounding!
Like the cohorts that traveled the great halls of the newly named Scott Bibb Center before them, these students are also gaining contextualized job skills training in facilities maintenance. Throughout the building, which is currently being renovated, you can hear the roar of power saws, the hammering of nails and the aroma of the wood that fills the air as the sharp blades slice through them. Each piece of wood is precisely measured to fit together like a piece of a puzzle to form a construction masterpiece. These students must also work together like puzzle pieces to complete various projects and initiatives.
The Building Futures program is a unique experience for every student. Not only do students receive academic preparation and job skills training, but they are also introduced into leadership development which directly affects the Alton community.
How does their leadership development affect the Alton community you ask? Well, I’ll answer that for you! YouthBuild leadership development affects the Alton community through the Building Futures/AmeriCorps initiative.
How does the Building Futures/AmeriCorps component work? Are you ready for it? Well here it goes:
AmeriCorps supports a wide range of local and national service programs, which engage more than 75,000 Americans, who are 17 and older, in intensive community service each year. AmeriCorps provides grants to a network of local and national organizations and agencies committed to using national service to address critical community needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. Local service programs then become a fully affiliated AmeriCorps site bearing the AmeriCorps logo.
The Building Futures YouthBuild AmeriCorps program, in turn, uses AmeriCorps funding to recruit, place and supervise Building Futures YouthBuild AmeriCorps members locally. By participating in AmeriCorps Service Learning, students are eligible to gain the AmeriCorps Education Award of $1,515.55. This money can be used to pay college for up to seven years after it is earned. Educational scholarships are also provided to Building Futures AmeriCorps students who complete 450 hours of community service and aspire to transition into college from YouthBuild through the Lewis and Clark Community College Adult Education department.
The current YouthBuild cohort began their AmeriCorps Service learning by participating in the Building Futures/Madison County/Impact CIL partnership ramp-building project. For those of you who are not familiar with Impact CIL, let me inform you! Impact CIL offers programs and services to those with disabilities to live an independent life in Madison County and surrounding areas. The Impact CIL ramp program manages the ramp construction for individuals with disabilities to better access their homes.
What role does each organization play in this partnership? Impact CIL picks the recipients to receive the ramp, Madison County actually pays for the cost to build the ramp through a competitive bid process, and Building Futures bids on the project. If we win the bid, we begin building the ramp. With the instruction and oversight of the Building Futures Construction Manager Mitchell Fletcher, YouthBuild students do all the work by utilizing the job skills training they have received in our construction lab. YouthBuild students are able to put experiences like these on their resumes. Hopefully, this hands-on training leads to employment for the students.
As we here at Building Futures begin our new year and I wrap up the first Lewis and Clark Community College YouthBuild blog post, I would like to leave you with a quote by YouthBuild Director Sabrina Davis on the significance of becoming an AmeriCorps affiliated member and what this means to the Building Futures YouthBuild program.
“AmeriCorps has brought service to the community to the forethought of everything we do as a YouthBuild site. We know the importance of building communities up and impacting both the people in the communities and the students we serve. It has been a building block for leadership, and we hope we can continue serving the people that support what YouthBuild/ AmeriCorps members stand for; Member, Program, Community!”
Until we meet again next week to discuss more important Building Futures YouthBuild news, I’m signing off!
~ Pat Mays, YouthBuild Coordinator
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” Dr. Martin Luther King.