Paving New Career Paths through Construction

This article is included in the Great Things: Issue 4 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

With residents seeking training in the construction trades, the project allowed hands-on opportunities to work side-by-side with DPR crews. Images taken prior to March 2020 and COVID-19 protocols. Courtesy of Congregation Media

A collaboration between DPR and a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit will create more opportunities for former criminal offenders to pursue meaningful careers in the trades, potentially even with DPR.

Jericho Project provides treatment and job training to chemically dependent former offenders who are committed to recovery and rehabilitation. It is 100 percent self-funded, and participants receive housing, treatment, education, physical training, social development and vocational training so they can become productive and successful members of society.

DPR's Special Services Group, a “special ops team” specializing in quick turnaround projects, was hired to upgrade some of Jericho’s housing facilities as well as double the space for its classroom and vocational training facility. The new 72,000-sq.-ft. warehouse includes the latest equipment and technology in a wide variety of construction mock-up training areas, such as welding, metal work, work word, electrical and plumbing.

With Jericho Project residents seeking training in the trades, the project meant those residents could work side-by-side with DPR’s crews. “It made sense to integrate the Jericho team to get them some great construction training for their education,” said DPR’s Kevin Shea. “It was like they were working for DPR.”

Two workers discussing project details on active jobsite
DPR worked with Jericho Project residents to upgrade the organization’s facilities. Images taken prior to March 2020 and COVID-19 protocols. Courtesy of Congregation Media

One of the biggest challenges of working within an existing building was navigating around unexpected issues, some structural, some related to the HVAC system. Bringing the project team together to come up with solutions on the go was critical to keeping the project going.

“A personal highlight for me was learning the trade of construction,” said Lentrell Hicks, a resident of Jericho Project. “I knew things about construction, but I didn’t know the depth of it and how much I can support myself with it. I’ve been learning some of the trade for HVACs and pipe fitting; those are the two aspects I’ve worked with DPR on.”

With these new building and equipment upgrades, Jericho Project can now expand its vocational training offerings and become accredited through the National Center for Construction Education and Research. Anyone who finishes the program will have their own registration number and can work for any construction company across the U.S., even DPR, which has more than 3,000 self-perform Craft workers and is actively working to build and develop that workforce.

“In working so closely with these guys at DPR, it's unique how the whole situation comes together, the interest that DPR had in the program and what it actually does for the people around them,” said Nick Rodgers, program director for Jericho Project. “We’ve come together to work towards one common goal, which is to get this project built.”

“This is one of those times where your job is very personal,” said Shea.

An earlier version of this story attributed images to Zach Shull, this has been updated to correctly attribute them to Congregation Media.