While a major thrust of the National Association of Women in Construction is helping to pave the road to success for women in this industry, another of its objectives is to promote education for the betterment of the entire construction industry — and nowhere is this more evident than in the scholarship and other educational programs of the New England chapters.
Maine Chapter 276 has one of the most successful scholarship programs in the country. Supported by proceeds from the chapter's award-winning Construction Expo (it was recognized by NAWIC national) held each year at the Augusta Civic Center, the scholarship program has awarded well over a quarter of a million dollars to both young men and women pursuing a career in construction, according to Joyce Newman, executive director.
Successful applicants receive $500 to $1,000 a year for up to four years. And they are not only students. Awards are also given to people making a career change or returning to the workforce. The group sees this as an opportunity to help someone who is trying to improve their knowledge and skills, and gain employment in the construction industry.
Additional education-related efforts of the chapter include maintaining liaisons with other construction associations, and promoting programs of the national organization's NAWIC Educational Foundation (NEF). Among its alliances is the Maine Construction Career Alliance (MCCA). Through its membership in MCCA, the chapter promotes jobs in construction, employer training, and good wages through TV commercials urging men and women to visit the MCCA website, which has links to member construction companies where they can apply for jobs.
Other efforts of Chapter 276 are supporting Women Unlimited, which provides training for women and minorities, and conducting Block Kids Programs for girls and boys in grades 1 through 6.
The Block Kids Building Program is a national building competition, sponsored by NAWIC chapters and a local host, which introduces children to the construction industry. The goal is to create awareness of the industry and promote interest in the careers it offers.
Granite State Chapter 218 has also sponsored Block Kids, according to President Jamy Welch. She pointed out that one of the competitors in last year's chapter event won national recognition. The competition involved building a construction-related project using Legos. Each participant was given the same number of Legos and was able to choose three other materials as well. Young builder John Moody won first prize in New Hampshire, for the region, and nationally, with his replica of the Route 1 lift bridge in Portsmouth.
Chapter 218 also promotes the NAWIC Educational Foundation, and sponsors scholarships for young people headed for a construction-related career. Each year the chapter awards a $1,000 scholarship to a student in the second year of a two-year college or in the junior or senior year of a four-year program.
Welch noted that the Granite State Chapter will be hosting the Region 14 Annual Spring Forum at the Sheraton Harborside in Portsmouth, N.H., April 4 and 5. All eight New England chapters and three New York chapters comprising Region 14 will have representatives at this event.
As do all of the New England chapters, Hartford Chapter 165 actively participates in Habitat for Humanity events. It is currently planning volunteer days for the Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity Women's Build.
In addition, the chapter will be working with its NAWIC partner Paxton Patterson in the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) for the annual Construction Career Days (CCD), in October. Connecticut plans to holds its CCD at the Mountainridge (formerly Mountainside) resort in Wallingford October 2 and 3. This is the state's sixth CCD event designed to introduce young people to the many job opportunities in construction, and is strongly supported by the Connecticut DOT and Connecticut Construction Industries Association, among other sponsors.
In Rhode Island, Chapter 52 members worked with the Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club who hosted the Rhode Island National Block Kids Competition, said Pamela House, 2007 president of the chapter. The group has also interacted with older students by having several business owners and construction professionals and tradeswomen visit high schools and speak to the students about careers in the industry.
This year Chapter 52 formed an alliance with the Rhode Island Commission on Women and several other women's organizations to help organize the first Rhode Island Girls in Non-Traditional Trades Expo 2008. Scheduled for March 2008 during National Women In Construction Week at the Lincoln Campus of Rhode Island Community College, the event will be a major focus for the group according to House, who will be stepping down as president with the election of new officers in September.
A 26-year veteran of the construction industry — she is currently a senior project accountant at Gilbane Building Company — House has been an active member of Chapter 52 for 15 years, and has mentored many members into the NAWIC organization, local and nationally. She said that when she came into the business many years ago, there were very few women role models.
She added that this is changing and NAWIC has been the place to garner support and build a network of like-minded individuals, promoting women in the construction industry.
Now read the national story: Women: Construction's Untapped Resource on page N4.