Building Life-Ready Young People
In the metro Richmond area, four out of five students will graduate from high school, but only one out of five is ready for college and life after graduation.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond is working tirelessly to change this reality. Developing life-ready young people is at the core of our mission, guiding our programs in college readiness and workforce development.
In pursuit of this mission, DPR Construction has stepped in as a long-term and valuable partner. Located in Richmond since 1996, DPR Construction is a nationwide construction company focused on commercial and technical building in the higher education, health care, advanced technology, life sciences and corporate sectors. The company is distinctive in the clarity of their values; part of their core ideology is to support community initiatives that help under-resourced young people meet their fullest potential.
DPR Construction has supported Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond for several years, contributing time, resources, expertise and training to benefit Club members. Five years ago when the Northside Club flooded, DPR Construction was asked to help fix doors that had been damaged. This was the beginning of the partnership, and the relationship between the organizations was formalized three years ago, when the DPR Foundation began grant writing and giving financially to support Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond.
Since the partnership formed, DPR Construction has donated more than $120,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond in support of workforce development programs for Club members, focusing particularly on teens. This year, working closely with Caprichia Moses, director of workforce development at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, the group planned to invite teens from the Northside and Southside Clubs to participate in DPR’s Build Up School of Construction program.
The School of Construction is a nationwide program by DPR Construction that introduces teens to construction careers by offering a pre-build day to familiarize students with a chosen construction project and answer questions about the industry. Then, during a hands-on workshop, experts from DPR Construction guide students in building and completing the project.
This May, 25 students from the Northside and Southside Clubs participated in the School of Construction. During the pre-build day on May 17, the students learned about best practices in construction, including how to manage schedules and collaborate safely with others. They were also introduced to the wide variety of possible careers in the industry, including superintendents, accountants, schedulers and project managers.
The following week, on May 25, the students came back together for the build day. Guided through three stations by DPR Construction professionals, Club members set out to build reading nooks for their Clubs. These custom-designed reading chairs and tables allowed students to build furniture that they’d actually see and use on a regular basis — and underscored the importance of reading throughout metro Richmond’s Clubs.
On the build day, at the first station, students learned about planning and design and used real-world technology, including 3-D modeling software, and witnessed the kinds of virtual and augmented reality that DPR Construction uses for projects. Next, students participated in a safety session, which offered guidance for following safety protocols both at home and in a work environment. Club members were also introduced to the tools that they would use that day and how to use them safely and efficiently.
In the third and final station, Club members worked closely with the DPR team to build the reading nooks, including a table and a pair of chairs. Designed with privacy in mind, the tables and chairs have higher sides and backs, so a Club member can find a quiet space in the Club to center themselves and read.
DPR Construction also engaged with some of their trusted subcontractors, including Karn Custom Woodwork, a local cabinetry professional, during the workshop and donated books to help support Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond’s efforts to foster a culture of reading.
Diane Rossini, a community outreach coordinator at DPR Construction, says one of her favorite aspects of the event was watching the students grow in confidence. “Over the course of these two weeks and these multiple touchpoints with the students, we really see their sense of pride and accomplishment,” she says. “This is a fairly complicated project, and at the beginning, some students were very timid. But by the end, they were all completely engaged and really ecstatic about their accomplishments and building something that is going to live in their Clubs.”
DPR’s partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond is one that both organizations hope to continue to grow and deepen. “This is just one piece of our relationship,” Diane says. “We’re really looking at this as a deeper relationship, where we can continue to help with career development and workforce training and support the teen center as that program grows.”