June 18, 2014

DPR And Subcontractor Partners Stand Up For Youth With Outreach Center Renovation

DPR employees and generous subcontractors traded the fast-paced, technical environment of their usual jobsites for an equally fast-track renovation of an outreach center for StandUp For Kids in San Diego. The volunteer team was able to perform demolition, electrical, concrete and interior finishout of the new space quickly, meaning there was no lost service time for the youth.

Before: Renovation in full swing.

After: Comfortable and safe sanctuary for youth living on the streets.

DPR has worked with StandUp For Kids for several years, awarding cash grants through the DPR Foundation and assisting with facilities needs and events for the youth.

StandUp For Kids is a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to homeless and at-risk youth throughout San Diego County. The organization’s two San Diego County outreach centers provide homeless children a safe environment and a wide range of services such as food, clothing, hygiene products, educational assistance, counseling and job referrals. Additionally, the nonprofit offers assistance to youth through street outreaches and educational programs in elementary and middle school classrooms. Founded in 1990, the Atlanta-based organization has programs in a number of states and is run almost entirely by volunteers.

June 15, 2014

Youth In Job-Skills Program Tour Project Site, Learn About Construction Careers

Students in American YouthWorks’ YouthBuild program spent an afternoon recently touring the JW Marriott Austin jobsite, one of the largest construction sites in the area. For most, this was their first experience touring a large-scale commercial construction project, and the first chance to see first-hand the scope of jobs and skills that go into a project of this size.

Students compare the model of the project with ongoing construction activities. Photo courtesy Bernadette Donato.

American YouthWorks transforms the lives of at-risk youth through education, service, and green jobs training.  AYW’s YouthBuild program is one of 264 chapters across the country. In YouthBuild programs, low-income young people ages 16 to 24 work full-time for 6 to 24 months toward their GEDs or high school diplomas while learning job skills. Emphasis is placed on leadership development, community service, and the creation of a positive mini-community of adults and youth committed to each other’s success. At exit, they are placed in college, jobs, or both.

June 6, 2014

San Diego Youth Learn New Skills, Build Gifts for Mom

DPR San Diego employees rolled up their sleeves to help participants in the La Colonia Boys & Girls Club – San Dieguito give their moms something they always ask for, a handmade gift.

Approximately 85 children ages 4 through 17 turned out for the after-school event, where they had the opportunity to hand-craft a special gift for their moms for Mother’s Day. Some 15 DPR employees reaped the reward of giving by volunteering their time to plan, prepare and then assist the children in making the Mother’s Day gifts.

They had the choice to make either a planter box that they then filled with flowers, or a custom-crafted cutting board stamped out in various shapes such as a whale, pear, heart or leaf, which they then sanded and oiled to a smooth finish.

The DPR Foundation provided special grant funding for the project. The coordination and planning efforts were extensive, according to Sarah Williams, DPR San Diego office liaison with the organization.

“It was a pretty big undertaking; we had several meetings ahead of time,” she commented. Volunteers prefabricated and cut pieces of the planter boxes for easy assembly and spent many hours coordinating the day so it would go smoothly.

By all accounts their efforts paid off, and the event was a big success.

“The children loved it,” Williams said. “Afterward they were really happy and many told the Boy & Girls Club leaders how nice it was to be able to give their moms something like that – many for the first time ever.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Over the past six years, the Foundation has awarded more than $3.2 million to 22 different organizations focused on providing community support to grade school and high school-aged children.

May 27, 2014

San Francisco Office Makes Big Green Move—First Net-Zero Energy Office in the City

It really is greener on the other side of the street—or in this case a few blocks away.
DPR’s San Francisco office made a big move this month from its long-time home on Sansome Street to a new net-zero-designed space at 945 Front Street. Recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, the office space is on track to be the first net zero office in San Francisco and one of only a handful in the nation.

Lobby of DPR's new San Francisco office featuring a living wall (Photo: Drew Kelly)

While the previous DPR San Francisco digs were LEED certified, this new space pushes green building further. The office boasts a host of unique green solutions, including recycled products throughout, dynamic glass that tints to let in the appropriate amount of light, fans to circulate air, and solar panels to convert San Francisco’s sunlight to power, which should generate more electricity than the building needs—about a third of the amount that a typical San Francisco office building uses—to run comfortably over the next year.

For more features and details read the full press release.

May 27, 2014

Raising the Roof for Seven Tepees at 19th Annual Fundraiser

DPR Foundation-supported Seven Tepees held their annual fundraiser in San Francisco recently, bringing in $280,000 from more than 150 supporters in attendance. Steve Grandin, DPR’s liaison to Seven Tepees and incoming co-president of the organization’s board of directors, said “it was really exciting to see the generosity of the crowd.” A live auction with professional auctioneer added additional motivation to give.

The fundraiser also showcased a highly articulate eighth grader, Ceci Vigil, who described what the program has meant to her and her family. She led an engaging Q&A with the organization’s founders, Judge Daniel Weinstein and Hully Fetico, about the mission and activities of Seven Tepees.

“Ceci was fabulous,” Grandin said. “Her brother, Jose, was an intern with us last year and is going on to college next year.”

Helping shepherd youth from middle school through high school graduation – and helping them advance to college or career, all while guiding them stay on the right path along the way – are major objectives of the program, Grandin noted. “This organization is really about providing options to our youth. There are 68 participants in our direct program, but we reach out to several high schools and touch well over 1,000 youth through our overall program.”

For the second year, DPR’s San Francisco office will host two summer interns from Seven Tepees. Grandin explained that the internship program is not geared so much to teaching youth about construction, as it is about “familiarizing them with professional work environment.”

“We teach the kids how to shake hands, how to show up on time, how to finish a task once you start it and how to be organized,” he said. “It helps them learn what flies in the real world.”

The numerous hands-on activities sponsored by Seven Tepees can require an intensive time commitment for those most closely involved. Grandin estimated that DPR employees average 400 cumulative hours a year, while he has easily logged more than 100 hours as a board member and vice president of the board this year alone and countless more throughout the past four years.

While it is not always easy to balance volunteer work with the demands of managing projects throughout San Francisco, the personal benefits of volunteering and making a difference with underprivileged youth are well worth it to the employees who dive in, he said.

“It’s really rewarding,” he added. “I love the kids, and we’ve got a phenomenal team that has made a huge impact with these youth.”

Seven Tepees is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Over the past six years, the Foundation has awarded more than $3.2 million to 22 different organizations focused on providing community support to grade school and high school-aged children.

May 12, 2014

Sacramento Youth Tour DPR Office For Teen Center Design Ideas

From the unique art and decor on display in its offices across the country to the collaborative, innovative approaches of its project teams, DPR showcases its core values of integrity, enjoyment, uniqueness and ever forward in a multitude of ways.

This spring, youth from the Roberts Family Development Center (RFDC) looked to DPR as a source of inspiration and ideas as they were planning ways to redecorate their teen center in Sacramento. Approximately 15 teens and support staff took a tour of the DPR Sacramento office to spark their creativity.

In addition to seeing how DPR visually communicates its corporate values and ideals, the teens also spent time talking with various DPR employees. That included an interactive discussion with estimator Rodman Marquez who talked to the youth about their personal career goals and how they planned to achieve them.

The teens walked away with fresh ideas as to how they might express their collective goals, objectives and core values for their own center through new decor, according to Sandi Graham, who serves as liaison to RFDC.

“We talked to the kids about how they could work together as a team to determine what they displayed on their walls, and explained what core values are in terms of our company,” Graham said.

The DPR Foundation has supported the center since 2008, with grants totaling $240,000. RFDC is a community-based organization that takes a holistic approach focusing on early childhood and family education, economic empowerment and technology. RFDC’s goal is to nurture personal growth, strengthen families, and enhance community development and civic involvement.

May 9, 2014

The Net-Zero Energy Building Challenge: Who Will Be Next?

Recently, Ted van der Linden and I published an article with USGBC, "The net-zero energy building challenge: Who will be next?".

The article outlines DPR's approach to "deep green" construction, highlighting our San Diego and Phoenix offices, which have both achieved ZNE status. Getting to ZNE is a a tall order, but as we've proven twice over, it's attainable with an owner and project team who are committed to the goal. Contrary to a common misconception, highly sustainble buildings can actually cost less to operate over the long term, and can be achieved in both temperate and severe climates.

Our new San Francisco office will soon join our San Diego and Phoenix offices as ZNE, LEED-Platinum renovations.

Photo: DPR's Phoenix regional headquarters has been certified net zero energy.

May 1, 2014

MMYC Recognizes DPR For Long-Term Support

‘Model’ Partnership Stresses Active Involvement in Making a Difference with Youth

Through a combination of ongoing grant support and front-line, active volunteerism, the DPR Foundation has forged an extremely successful partnership with the Maryland Multicultural Youth Center (MMYC) over the past six years, and counting.

MMYC and its parent organization, the Latin American Youth Center, recently honored DPR’s Mid-Atlantic office for its ongoing support with a Community Impact Award. The organization presented the award to DPR during its annual fundraiser event May 1, 2014, entitled “Gala 2014, Educating and Empowering Youth.” DPR was feted at the Gala along with Capitol One Executive Vice President Steve Linehan, a longtime member of the MMYC board who has also served the organization for many years.

DPR Mid-Atlantic office liaison Dianna Petitt, who was among those on hand to receive the award, called the recognition a significant honor from one its long-term partners. MMYC was one of the four original organizations that the DPR Foundation tapped to support when it was founded.

“While we so appreciate the funding DPR provides, what sets them apart is the active engagement of their employees in our programs and with the youth.”

“The essence of the award was to recognize us as a partner both financially and operationally,” Petitt said. “Getting involved working with the youth I think goes to the heart of the Foundation’s mission. We want to work with organizations that use our talents effectively and leverage more than just the grant dollars.”

Award ceremony photo courtesy of Maryland Multicultural Youth Center

MMYC Director Luisa Montero estimated that over the past six years, DPR has helped the organization serve more than 800 young people, including 500 youth in the after school program and more than 300 youth in the summer programs. That service has included everything from college tours, camping, bike trips and sports clinics to lunch and learn workshops, first aid classes, computer hardware and software assistance and basketball outings, to name a few. DPR Foundation grants to MMYC have totaled $355,000 since 2009.

“While we so appreciate the funding DPR provides, what sets them apart is the active engagement of their employees in our programs and with the youth,” Montero commented.

The relationship that DPR has forged with MMYC and the organization’s work with the youth it serves have set a high standard, according to Jeff Vertucci, who has been actively involved with the organization from the outset, initially while working as regional manager for the Mid-Atlantic region and now as senior manager overseeing DPR’s East Coast work.

The organization serves as a model for what DPR would like to see with its volunteer partnerships, Vertucci said. “MMYC has been one of the most exemplary organizations that we support,” he commented. “They are very disciplined in how they measure their results in terms of how the youth do, their test scores and how they keep them on the right path and out of gangs and out of trouble.”

DPR places a heavy emphasis on hands-on involvement. In addition to many hours logged working with the youth in their after school programs, DPR employees have shared their skills or passions with the MMYC youth by teaching clinics on golf, football and baseball, offering Zumba lessons and much more. Every summer DPR has hosted a camping trip that is a major highlight for both volunteers and the youth.

Whatever the forum, volunteers make an effort to impart not just their own particular sports expertise or technical knowledge, but to add a broader perspective that includes life lessons as well.

“There are so many different ways that we can use our own skillsets and talents to support the organization and engage the kids,” Vertucci said. “Youth we saw as middle-schoolers are now in college. Many of them have done really well in school as a result of this program.”

MMYC, which provides educational support/tutoring, cultural enrichment, nutrition, summer programs and physical active ties to middle school youth, is a member of the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) family of organizations. LAYC is a multicultural, regionally based organization whose mission is “to support youth and their families to live, work and study with dignity, hope and joy.” Founded in 1968, LAYC was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1974 for the purpose of serving “at-risk” immigrant Latino youth. Since its inception, the agency has grown from a small grassroots recreation center serving primarily for Latino youth to a nationally recognized organization with a broader focus encompassing all youth and families across the District of Columbia and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland.

April 25, 2014

The Unknown, Hidden Secret of SSG: Self-Performed Work

DPR Special Services Group (SSG) incorporates Self-Performed Work (SPW) in just about all of our projects. Why do we do that? The obvious benefits often cited are: time, budget, quality and safety. But there’s another dimension to SPW, a single defining idea that holds together the process and makes it a golden strategy for project success. That aspect is, in a word, communication.

We’re continually interested in innovative approaches to improving work method. Over the years, we’ve discovered that SPW can help the process in making jobs run smoother, by opening up and facilitating the channels of communication, as it monitors the interactions and intersections of every trade at work on a job. It turns out that high awareness and connection can both improve project completion, not to mention client satisfaction. As we have evolved our understanding of how this happens, we’ve experienced excellent results. Managing relationships definitely improves performance.

Classically, benefits in time can result. Owing to improved lines of communication, there is less wait for biddable documents.  Early estimating, logistics and scheduling means work starts earlier in the field. SSG and SPW are perfectly suited for projects that require completion on the fast-track.  Adjustments are made quickly to compensate for changes in conditions and scope of work. The size of teams can grow or shrink according to need. We more effectively stay on-track for delivery dates with everyone in the communication loop.

Budgets are more closely monitored because SPW engages the design team earlier than it traditionally occurs in projects. This allows greater influence in the project outcome. It translates into efficiencies and savings, among them smarter production details and the ability to specify cost-saving alternative materials.

It’s no accident that a safe workplace contributes to the overall success of a project. We find that our crews working onsite provide a consistent reminder of the company’s high expectations as they interact with other subcontractors. These teams also serve as an extra set of eyes on the project site. Despite the urban myth that safety means a sacrifice in productivity, DPR has found that with proper planning, production increases as jobsite safety increases.

You can easily quantify the benefits of SPW in time, budget, quality and safety. And it’s true that SPW improves the client experience. But the core concept of how it works comes down to simple relationship building.  It is no coincidence that relationship-building is a core tenet of DPR philosophy. The beauty of SPW is that it succeeds by promoting a commonality of goals, heightened communication and a great result for our clients.

SPW Photo Courtesy of David Cox

April 23, 2014

Tile Wall Spotlights Creativity at Milagro Center

Hundreds of creative, colorful stars and other patterns, hand-painted by youngsters onto 6-by-6-inch ceramic square tiles, currently adorn an entryway wall at the Milagro Center in Delray Beach, Fla. DPR had a major hand making the new tile wall a reality for the center, an organization supported by the DPR Foundation.

On a Saturday in early April DPR employees spent time installing the tiles as well as a much-needed custom storage cabinet for the Milagro Center’s volunteer coordinator.

The watercolor painted tiles not only serve to brighten the physical environment of the center where local disadvantaged youth enjoy after-school arts and education programs, but they also represent a source of pride for the 30 or so elementary-age students that use the center each day. The new display wall offers them the opportunity to publicly showcase their emerging artistic abilities in a setting that elevates art and music education. For many of those children, the Milagro Center provides a vital supplement to public schools that have cut art and music programs in recent years.

The children were reportedly delighted when they saw their handiwork up for the first time the following Monday. “I heard from the volunteer coordinator when the students started showing up after school that they were thrilled to see the (formerly) blank wall covered with their colorful tiles,” DPR's Milagro Center liaison Luke Stocking says.

Stocking’s own volunteer work with the Center initially began about a year ago when he helped out with renovation needs as the Center was readying its previous facility for sale. Over the last two months or so, he has committed time each week to meeting with and mentoring the students after school. The personal reward of spending time with the youth has been priceless, he says.

“The children at this center are from working class families, and their parents often have two or three jobs,” Stocking says. “Just being able to see their faces light up when an adult goes there to spend time with them, whether it’s helping with math homework or playing Monopoly, it’s a great feeling. It’s really fulfilling to see people be truly happy that you’re there just to spend time.”

And there is much more planned in the months ahead. DPR is working in partnership with other local community businesses including Bank of America to provide career development sessions at the Milagro teen center, located in a separate building nearby. Tentatively scheduled for May through August, once a month DPR employees will conduct an hourlong session to discuss the opportunities in construction and share the many diverse roles available in the industry.

The Milagro Center is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Over the past six years, the Foundation has awarded more than $3.2 million to 22 different organizations focused on providing community support to grade school and high school-aged children.