Since its founding in 1975, the Murdock Trust has invested in nonprofits that provide opportunities for flourishing to everyone in our region – including, and often especially, those who have been traditionally underrepresented. The Trust has also held long investment in innovative solutions to complex challenges, learning from and supporting organizations that approach intractable problems with creativity. Recently, the Trust had the opportunity to support an organization that does both of these things with excellence: Constructing Hope (CH) Pre-Apprenticeship Program in Portland, OR.
CH seeks to rebuild the lives of people in their Portland community by encouraging self-sufficiency through skills training and education in the construction industry. The organization’s story began in 1995 when a church in Northeast Portland noticed the need for affordable housing for its members, particularly the large minority population in the area. Church members created an organization that built and sold eleven homes to low-to-middle income families, all while providing hands-on construction experience to program participants.
Today, that organization has turned into a successful pre-apprenticeship program that serves 100% low income and unemployed or underemployed, 61% coming from the criminal justice system, and 66% racial or ethnic minority.
“We target people who are missing in the construction industry,” said Pat Daniels, executive director, as quoted in a KGW8 news article, “so we target African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and all low-income people.”
Participants go through a no-cost, ten-week training program that gives them the confidence and skills to walk onto a construction site ready to work and earn a living wage. Beyond these ten weeks, CH makes a three-year commitment to participants. The organization follows up on placement and retention, and offers mentorship programs that build long-term relationships with successful tradespeople. There is even a summer program that introduces youth to the construction industry, giving them a vision for a potential career path.
In 2021, the Murdock Trust had the opportunity to help this outstanding organization build its capacity through the expansion of its workforce training center facility. This new space will include a more accessible construction training area, a new classroom with computers, and a larger community meeting area. Most importantly, with this extended space, CH will be able to double the number of participants enrolled annually.
In addition to supporting this expansion project, the Trust has been able to provide support for technology purchases and team building initiatives. Just as CH is building capacity in those they serve, so too are we grateful to support the capacity-building work of this impactful organization.
CH, you are truly in the business of constructing hope and rebuilding lives. Thank you for letting us lend a few tools along the way. May your good work continue.