On a warm Saturday afternoon in April, NOMAR's President-elect LaTanya LaBranch, CEO Missy Whittington, and Marketing Coordinator T. J. Rogers attended what was basically an open house and recognition ceremony. While this may sound pretty normal, the house was designed and built by area high school students. These students, or apprentices as they are more appropriately called, received their awards, promotions and Equity Scholarships from unCommon Construction, the nonprofit that makes it possible for students to get hands on learning and team building, while building anywhere from 1 to 3 houses in a year.
unCommon Construction is a nonprofit that uses the build process to empower youth to lead the workforce after high school or college. Through their selective apprenticeship program, students from different area high schools join a diverse team to earn hourly pay and school credit for building a house in a semester.
Upon the sale of each home, apprentices also earn a matching "Equity Award" scholarship for further education, industry certifications or the tools they need for a full time job. With 100+ hours experience in a real world learning environment per semester, apprentices develop skills and relationships that last as long as the house they use to do so.
We know this sounds impressive, and it really is, but they have even more up their sleeves when it comes to doing good. For instance, UCC NOLA typically rehabs or builds more than one house in a neighborhood, which is usually facing issues of blight and neglect. "One house is just fixing something, but two or three houses, that's starting something," one of the apprentice's told me. The idea is that more than one house being rehabbed or rebuilt helps spur along owners and residents to take control of the quality of their neighborhood, and invest themselves in beautifying where they live.
We learned about unCommon Construction from a recommendation from a colleague. After looking over their website and spending an afternoon with the staff and apprentices and other sponsors like Gibbs Construction and The Witry Collective, NOMAR was sold on the work of the organization and were proud to present them with a check for $1,000.
If you'd like to learn more about unCommon Construction or make a donation, we encourage you to visit their website.