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Building Futures Graduates Celebrate Fresh Opportunities
Summer Program Recruitment Starts Now

Interested in applying? Recruitment starts now for the summer program beginning July 31st. Applications are due July 18th. Click ​HERE to download the Building Futures flyer.

Ricky Reynolds first dreamt of a career as an electrician more than eight years ago, and now that dream is finally being realized as he and several others graduated IBEW 26’s 5-year program last weekend to become full-fledged journeymen. "We feel like brothers after all these years,” said Reynolds, "and we have challenged each other to be the best we can be.” Reynolds landed the IBEW apprenticeship after graduating from the Community Services Agency’s (CSA) Building Futures program in 2010. “Dreams come true for those who dare believe in themselves,” said CSA Client Services Coordinator Sylvia Casaro Dietert, “and Ricky Reynolds believed that he could do this despite all odds.” Contact Casaro Dietert at [email protected] for more information on the 6-week Building Futures pre-apprenticeship program; visit the CSA website here.
photo of IBEW 26 president Tom Myers with Reynolds; credit Reynolds family


"Since I joined the union I have had no bad days," said Kenneth Davis. Davis was accepted into the Community Services Agency’s Building Futures Pre-Apprenticeship program soon after his release from prison last year, graduating in December 2016. "I think the Building Futures Program is great!" he told the current crop of students earlier this week. Now in his first year as a residential class apprentice with IBEW Local 26, the Building Futures program was so important to Davis that he took his own time to tell students what life is like for him since participating in the program. Building Futures is a pre-apprenticeship program that trains low-income DC residents to be successful in the construction industry and get placed into construction apprenticeships and living wage construction jobs. “Participants like Kenneth succeed because of their own drive and the intensive case management they receive in Building Futures to help overcome barriers to accessing apprenticeships like help obtaining drivers licenses,” said CSA Assistant Executive Director Sonte DuCote. The curriculum includes construction math, blueprint reading, and job readiness. Participants also earn certifications in areas like Flagger Safety and OSHA 10. The Winter 2018 cohort will start soon; watch for more details after New Years. To contribute to this program make a check payable to CSA and earmark for Building Futures or donate securely online at communityservicesagency.org.
- photo by Sonte DuCote

Stepping it up for CSA's Holiday Basket Program
Staff and OPEIU Local 2 members at AFGE and IBEW really stepped up their efforts this year to help local needy families during the Community Services Agency's Holiday Basket Project. "This is really terrific and helps CSA promote the Holiday Basket Project and our other programs," said a grateful Sonte' DuCote, CSA's Assistant Executive Director. The AFGE/OPEIU 2 efforts raised over $4,000 in funds, gifts and gift cards for their two adopted families, and also included a brief video about the program. The IBEW activities included adopting a family which has faced long-term job loss, and collected over $400 worth of food, funds, toys and other presents and gift cards. "We love working with CSA on this project, and we challenge more national unions to run United Way campaigns as well as participate in CSA’s Holiday Basket Project next year!" said IBEW's Rachel Bryan. The IBEW raised over $53,660 for United Way this year.

Learning the building trades, one brick at a time:
​Finishing up their fourth week of the six-week training program, Building Futures trainees learned brick laying and masonry last week from Paul Ferenc, apprenticeship and training coordinator of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers Local 1. Trowels at the ready, the students got hands-on experience that added one more skill to ready them for a career in the building and construction trades. “Bricklaying and masonry, like any building and construction skill, is part of the foundation of stable employment in this industry,” said Ferenc. “Modern day construction requires top skills, discipline and commitment and we give Building Futures students a solid introduction.” Building Futures is a program of the Community Services Agency (CSA) of the Metro Washington Council. The program provides training and support for disadvantaged DC residents seeking union careers in the building and construction trades. “Thanks to our union training partners at the Bricklayers and Masons, and many others, Building Futures not only opens doors to real careers, it helps promote a wider understanding of what the labor movement does every day to make our communities stronger, ” said Sylvia Casaro-Dietert, who coordinates the program for CSA.

Building Futures Graduates Celebrate Fresh Opportunities
Summer Program Recruitment Starts Now
Fourteen Building Futures students graduated from their six week intensive pre-apprenticeship program last Monday, June 12, in what was for many students and their families, an emotional journey leading to fresh opportunities in region’s construction industry. The ceremony included dozens of family members as well as instructors and mentors from Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 891 and Community Services Agency staff.

“I was once just a number,” said Marcelus Turner, citing his time in prison. “Now I am a new man with new opportunities and a chance to build something with my life.”

Like Turner, Building Futures graduates have overcome personal, economic and professional obstacles that have kept them out of productive career pathways. Over the course of the training, Building Futures staff work with students individually to remove or at least limit these obstacles while students learn essential construction industry skills.

The Building Futures program recruits DC residents who are disadvantaged by low income, criminal history and other obstacles to employment. The pre-apprenticeship training combines hands on construction skills training, with construction math, blue print reading, resume-writing and interviewing skills, on the job relationship building and time management, orientation to the construction industry and apprenticeship. The students are very lucky to have access to hands-on experiences at several union apprenticeship programs in the area, and CSA is gratified for the support it receives from the trades.

Building Futures is a program of the Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO.
Interested in applying? Recruitment starts now for the summer program beginning July 31st. Applications are due July 18th. Click ​HERE to download the Building Futures flyer.

Hunger Doesn’t Go on Vacation During the Summer
Access to food continues to be a problem for working families- not just at holiday time- but all through the year. And summer can be tough when kids are out of school and school lunches and snacks disappear. Thanks to the area labor family, CSA and the Capital Area Food Bank have been the beneficiaries of some recent union food drives. Robert Williams, President of NALC Branch 142, reports that their branch collected 69,619 pounds of food during the Annual Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive conducted the Saturday before Mother’s Day in May, and this was donated to the Capital Area Food Bank, which provides food to hundreds of metro area food banks, helping to provide food to thousands of our neighbors across suburban Maryland, DC and northern Virginia. And this week, CSA received a car load of food collected by the OPEIU Local 2 members and the staff of the National Electrical Benefits Fund in Rockville.

If you would like to help CSA help union members and others in need of food this summer, you can send us gift cards from Giant, Safeway or Shoppers- our union grocery stores, collect non-perishable food at your shop and call us when it’s ready for pick-up or delivery, or send in a financial contribution to CSA earmarked for the Emergency Assistance Fund. Email [email protected] or [email protected] for information. Labor Cares – Labor Shares! Thank you!