Residents of Brownsville’s Marcus Garvey Apartments celebrated on Thursday the successful completion of an on-site construction training program that now leaves them equipped with new skills in carpentry, framing and electrical work.

The program’s first cohort, consisting of ten men and women, graduated from a 16-week workforce development program led by the Brownsville Community Justice Center, in collaboration with L+M Development Partners, which owns and manages Marcus Garvey Apartments. Through BCJC’s program, five participants have completed their OSHA 30 training and certification, while the other five are still in the process of earning their certification.

Next, the graduates will receive free job placement assistance from a construction facilitator supported through the program, with the goal of entering an apprenticeship.

“The construction training program helped me develop skills I can use immediately to earn a good-paying job,” said program graduate Ernesto Matthews. “By running the program just steps from my home, BCJC and L+M made the program accessible and easy to join. I’m proud and excited to graduate today and to take the next steps in my new career.”

Photo courtesy Brownsville Community Justice Center

The course also included the practical application of the skills the group learned in the classroom. Over the four-month program, the participants constructed a shed at the Marcus Garvey Youth Clubhouse, a project designed and constructed by the apartments’ young residents to address public safety issues and to add space for recreational and work readiness activities. Future program participants will continue to use the new shed to practice their demolition and building skills, organizers said.

“Providing opportunities for residents to receive free hands-on training and to become certified in fields of interest allows residents to tap into careers that traditionally would be out of reach for them,” said Ionna Jimenez, program manager at the BCJC.

The next construction training cohort is expected to start in the spring.

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