Together, we have formed a strong, green-collar community where success is not measured simply in dollars earned, but in families raised, neighborhoods rebuilt and most importantly, in lives transformed.
In 2010, Saint-Gobain initiated a partnership with YouthBuild USA and its Green Initiative. YouthBuild USA is a non-profit organization that helps unemployed young people transform their lives by earning high-school diplomas or GEDs while also learning green construction skills. For students, it's a life-changing opportunity to gain in-demand, green-collar skills as they build sustainable, affordable housing for low-income families in their communities. For Saint-Gobain, it's an equally rewarding opportunity to educate future generations about sustainable building and environmental preservation through its own products and people.
Four communities where Saint-Gobain and its family of companies have business concentrations were chosen for the partnership: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Akron, Ohio; Schenectady, New York; and Worcester, Massachusetts. Green home renovation projects kicked off in these locations in 2011 and continue today - all with the goal of building healthy, sustainable housing that is also affordable.
While we made a significant financial contribution to YouthBuild – $750,000 over four years – our commitment goes well beyond money. It also includes the donation of energy-efficient building products, employee volunteer support and expertise. Building Scientists from our subsidiary CertainTeed have led education sessions and participated in “design charettes” to ensure the sustainability of partnership projects. Company employees worked side-by-side with young people at service events. We've hosted career days and tours of our facilities. And, we're launching a new pilot called “Scientists in the Classroom” where our employees will be acting as teachers and mentors for YouthBuild students in the classroom.
“Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed are playing a key role in helping prepare YouthBuild students for jobs and entrepreneurship in the green economy,” said Dorothy Stoneman, founder and president of YouthBuild USA. “This crucial support enables local YouthBuild programs to reach more young people who are out of work and out of school, providing leadership and life skills, as well as preparing them for careers in construction and other fields.”
Under the partnership with Saint-Gobain, Ciera Russum, a graduate of the Advanced Construction team at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School, worked on the renovation of a home that is now LEED Platinum. In Russum’s speech at the home’s ribbon-cutting event, she said:
“Thanks to our instructors, the Saint-Gobain Corporation Foundation and the building scientists at CertainTeed, I've learned new building skills that have opened my eyes to what I can do with my life. Sometimes I would come home from working on the house and try out things I’d learned on my mom's house – like fixing a hole in her ceiling! Before YouthBuild I'd never even picked up a piece of pipe in my life; now I am attending Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in the fall to study plumbing.
While we've rebuilt this home, we've also rebuilt our lives at YouthBuild. I've learned important life skills like teamwork, time management and trust. I have learned how to take criticism and how to be a leader who is responsible for the success of a project.”
Russum’s remarks exemplify the experiences of the 550 previously out-of-school and out-of-work young people who have benefited from the YouthBuild partnership with Saint-Gobain. Her story is representative of why YouthBuild USA is committed to bringing green building training to the forefront of its programming and how Saint-Gobain’s partnership is helping make careers in the green-collar economy possible.
To learn more and to follow the progress of these amazing students, check out our blog at: http://buildingourfuturetogether.com
Videos about our partnership can be found on YouTube.