Pre-apprenticeship program earns accolades from U.S. Department of Education (US DOE)
YouthBuild, a pre-apprenticeship program, offering participants academic support in combination with real-world construction trades experience, prepares approximately 20 students for apprenticeships and employment in growing markets in Hampton Roads. The initiative is currently a finalist in the United States Department of Education’s Rethink Adult Ed Challenge.
Students in the program earn a weekly stipend and learn not only the skills needed for their trades, but also concepts important for digital and financial literacy, workforce readiness and leadership.
YouthBuild was created through a collaboration among the City of Newport News, Newport News Public Schools and Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas.
As one of 95 programs recognized by the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, YouthBuild will progress to Stage 2 of the competition, where program administrators will have access to a “virtual accelerator” that will offer digital resources and support from subject matter experts to strengthen the program further.
In June, finalists will be invited to submit more detailed program proposals. A judging panel will select a grand-prize winner who will receive $250,000. Up to five runners-up will receive at least $100,000 each.
Rachel Ambrose, regional program manager for adult education, says, “We know how powerful pre-apprenticeship programs are for our students, allowing them access to opportunities in careers they might not have had otherwise. Being recognized by the US DOE validates what we already believed: combining academics with workplace skills and training helps students understand that what they’re learning has real-world benefits. We look forward to the support the program will receive from the virtual accelerator and hope to make YouthBuild even stronger as we prepare students for the world of work.”
Sarah “Sally” Fuller, a bus driver who was sent to help at Hines Middle School during virtual learning, is yet another great example of reassigned employees finding ways to make major contributions in their new circumstances. At first, Ms. Fuller served as a door greeter at Hines, but later she started Zoom training and became a buddy teacher in a virtual classroom. She was assigned to support Heather Horne, a seventh grade English teacher. Ms. Horne calls Ms. Fuller a “shining star” and describes how she eagerly jumped into Zoom instruction and voluntarily read ahead to familiarize herself with the literature selections in upcoming lessons and researched information to share with students about featured authors. “My heart grew at least three sizes the day Ms. Fuller told me what she had done,” Ms. Horne said. Lisa Gatz-Daniel, principal at Hines Middle, says, “We are so grateful to have Ms. Fuller as an adopted member of the Spartan Family.”