The last time you were stuck in traffic, did you drive past construction workers skillfully using tools such as cranes, framing hammers, and chisels and wonder how they learned their trade? POIC + RAHS Construction Pre-Apprenticeship program, a 2020 Social SEED Grant Fund recipient, is working to expand and support who is eligible for these construction-specific jobs.
“The demographic that POIC + RAHS primarily targets, it is no secret that they have been marginalized and affected by cannabis laws.” explained Charles Manigo during his 2019 presentation to Portland City Council. “Last year we had a young lady who was released from prison and she came to us wanting to be in our Construction Pre-Apprenticeship program, but she had a lot of barriers… because of the grant, we were able to get her childcare, a driver’s license, set her up with a bank account, and financial literacy classes.”
According to Multnomah County findings, between 2001 and 2010, Black people were three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession compared to whites in Oregon, even though research indicates they use cannabis at similar rates. Overcoming an arrest or conviction of cannabis possession can take years and can cause a lifetime of negative impacts including loss of work, freedom, parents, and partners, as well as denied loans, housing, student aid, and custody.
POIC + RAHS understands these difficulties and is committed to reinvesting in communities impacted by cannabis prohibition. When asked to reflect on the impact of their project, Director of Employment and Training, Megan Bell explained, "Construction is an incredible opportunity for the young adults we work with, especially those that have a prior arrest or conviction that may impact their employability in other sectors. I would like to see more apprenticeship programs pledge a commitment to hiring graduates from pre-apprenticeship programs.”
Due to COVID-19, the program had to temporarily stop but is now starting again with the addition of a new comprehensive safety plan to protect trainees and staff. Director of Development, Ruben Fonseca, said about the program’s reopening, “The health and welfare of our participants is our top priority, and we are happy to resume this critical program soon – the right way. POIC Construction Pre-Apprenticeship is helping their students complete their training and get into the workforce as soon as possible.”
For more information about 2020 SEED Grant Recipient, POIC + RAHS, please check out https://www.portlandoic.org/
Find out more about the SEED Initiatives here.