WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Do School, a community nonprofit organization that focuses on building economic mobility in underserved sectors of the city, announced it has received a new $15,000 grant from the Black Philanthropy Initiative (BPI) of The Winston-Salem Foundation.
The Do School (TDS) is pioneering an innovative approach to skills training in the construction industry and providing it for marginalized residents of low-wealth neighborhoods. The Do School’s 20-week training program prepares students for jobs in the construction and remodeling industry as they refurbish East Winston houses and revitalize the area. TDS then sells the houses to first-time homeowners and others.
Improving Lives and Neighborhoods
According to The Do School Founder and Executive Director Jerry Anderson, “We bring women and men from underserved communities into a live learning environment with training in the construction trades. The process begins with the purchase of a house that needs repair and has depressed property values. The house becomes a platform for training our cohorts about the various aspects of the home renovation process. Once complete, we can make that property available to purchase through a first-time homebuyer’s initiative.” The renovated homes help boost surrounding property values and vitality of the neighborhood, while proceeds from the sale allow The Do School to purchase additional properties and continue providing skills training opportunities.
Building an Inclusive Economy
The grant is awarded through the Black Philanthropy Initiative’s (BPI’s) new Building an Inclusive Economy grants program. Funding comes from the Black Philanthropy Fund, which is supported through community donations.
In recognizing the impact TDS is making on individual lives as well as the community, Winston-Salem Grants Committee Chair Robert Leak III said: “Wealth isn’t always measured in dollar signs. I believe we each have a gift, skill and talent that must be discovered to create powerful forces for positive change in our communities!”
“We’re extremely grateful to BPI for recognizing the important impact we can have on our community by helping folks develop practical skills and giving them opportunities to put those skills to good use,” said Anderson. “This grant not only provides critical resources, but also signals growing support for our mission.”
A Collaborative Partnership
An initial partnership among The Do School, Piedmont Federal Savings Bank, and The Winston-Salem Foundation helped kickstart the pilot program with funds to cover the cost of purchasing and renovating the first property. Anderson is leading the effort with more East Winston residents to break down barriers to economic mobility. The Do School’s growing list of partners includes Winston-Salem State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM), Frank L. Blum Construction, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, and CollegeNET, Inc., a technology company based in Portland, Oregon that supports greater affordability and access to higher education.
“There are people who can change the trajectory of our communities when they are fully involved,” Anderson said. “It’s part and parcel of our Place, Our Space. We must be the change we want to see. Our collaborative model gives everybody a chance to operate in their lane, whatever that might be, ranging from clerical to construction.”
Jim Wolfston, President of CollegeNET, Inc., and Board member of The Do School, said: “Unlike a traditional university curriculum that inculcates general principles and fundamental skills that the student may later apply upon graduation, The Do School’s pedagogic strategy is ‘specific to general.’ The Do School starts with a real challenge: Let’s rebuild a house. All participants then establish an inventory of tasks and tools and collaborate on a plan of action. As work, mistakes, and rework happen, students build abstract skills, knowledge, and wisdom; achieve confidence and satisfaction from meeting the big challenge; and take well-earned pride in the result. This is, of course, exactly what we try to do every day as we solve important problems in our jobs and in our personal lives.”
About The Do School
The Do School (TDS) is a nonprofit organization that focuses on building economic mobility in underserved sectors of the city. Its mission is to promote collaboration in training a capable, sustainable workforce in the construction industry. TDS recognizes that training must extend beyond trade skills to incorporate life skills—a component missing from most traditional training models.
To learn more, visit thedo-school.org.
For more information on The Winston-Salem Foundation and the Black Philanthropy Initiative, visit bpiws.org.