YouthBuild Worcester has operated a construction skills training track since 1999 and a nursing assistant construction-plus track since 2017, serving more than 500 opportunity youth. Operated by Training Resources of America Inc. (TRA), the program’s success is due in large part to the strong community partnerships that have been developed over the years, most notably with Saint-Gobain Corp. (SGC), one of the largest building materials manufacturers in the world.
TRA and SGC have enjoyed a long-term partnership that spans more than 45 years, with SGC representatives serving on TRA’s Board of Directors and assisting TRA in the development and support of a number of training and education program initiatives across the country in areas where SGC maintains plant operations.
This partnership has helped support YouthBuild Worcester students like Meleny Toro who said:
I didn’t come from a privileged background. I constantly feel like I’m at a disadvantage being a young, single, homeless parent. But being a part of YouthBuild doesn’t make me feel alone, ever. I feel like I have grown to know each and every one of these people — my classmates and teachers — and to appreciate their diverse opinions and points of view. We all come from different places, but came here to make a positive change in our lives.
In 2010, TRA introduced SGC to YouthBuild USA and the YouthBuild program model. As a result, SGC entered into a partnership with YouthBuild USA to provide pass-through grants to selected YouthBuild programs and focus on the following elements:
In the last ten years, SGC’s support of YouthBuild Worcester and other sub-grantees has provided funding, high-end building supplies, employee volunteers, building technical assistance, and enhancement of STEM training through the “Scientists in the Classroom” series.
Through the construction track, students have renovated or constructed 23 low-income, affordable housing units in Worcester, most of which have attained high ENERGY STAR ratings. They have also worked on a variety of rehabilitation, preventive maintenance, and landscaping projects at 900 low-income housing units owned by Worcester Housing Authority.
In partnership with SGC, YouthBuild USA, and Worcester Common Ground, students recently completed the new construction of a single-family home at 20 Merrick Street – their first LEED-certified green build. This home was recently sold to a low-income, first-time homebuyer.
YouthBuild Worcester Student Meleny Toro.
Photo Credit: Lin Ormondroyd, Training Resources of America, Inc