Being Integral and Indispensable

“The best way to truly make a positive impact in a community is to understand the needs and match those with our strengths as a company,” said Peter Nosler, DPR’s co-founder and president of the DPR Foundation. “We want to focus our energies in targeted areas, and go deeper to make a greater impact.”

Nosler explained that the most effective way for a company like DPR to make an impact is through the unique skills of its employees.

“Whether through service on boards, bringing in our business partners for a multiplier effect, or in the field with hammers and nails, DPR is in a fortunate position to make a great impact on our communities by sharing what we do every day, from project-oriented expertise to our innovative spirit,” Nosler said.

DPR demonstrated this recently through an event organized with two nonprofits in Phoenix dedicated to changing the futures of disadvantaged youth: ICAN: A Positive Place for Youth and Future For Kids (FFK). DPR team members sit on the boards of both organizations and recognized an opportunity to inspire the children with an interactive, hands-on construction project.

A few phone calls later, the first DPR School of Construction was born.

In June, approximately 100 grade-school students from both organizations attending summer camps descended on DPR’s Phoenix office for a two-hour mini-camp taught by DPR employees. Divided into four groups, the children tackled a doghouse construction project. They learned about jobsite safety, the design process, how and why to create a mock-up, and finally, the construction of the doghouse itself. After the workshop, the four new doghouses were donated to a local animal shelter.

Along the way, the students heard from individual DPR employees about what their jobs are like and the educational and career paths that brought them there. A closing session also demonstrated the positive impact that exposure to career options can have, as well as a shift in thinking about what a career in construction would entail.

According to Tim Hyde, DPR’s liaison with ICAN and FFK, at the beginning of the workshop, the youths said the word “construction” brought to mind “iron working,” “welding” and “art.” At the end of the day, new associations were brought up, including “be safe,” “don’t give up,” “be prepared,” and “education.” Many expressed an interest in learning more about the field.

“Through a remarkable collaborative effort from all three organizations, we developed an incredible event that helped expose young children to the construction industry,” said Hyde. “Our ultimate goal was to inspire a strong work ethic and continued education for future career success.”

At the end of the day, all of the kid’s walked away with a hard hat to keep, new knowledge about how to complete a project and construction industry opportunities, and a sense of accomplishment through creating doghouses that would benefit rescue dogs at the local Friends for Life Animal Rescue shelter.

Said sixth-grade participant Kyndle, who now aspires to be an architectural engineer, “I think it was fun that we got to build things instead of just learning about them. It was very interactive. I liked that they showed us how to build a doghouse, and then we got to create it.”

“They (DPR) were nice and helpful to us. I got to build a doghouse. I want to be a builder and designer just like them,” said second-grader Eva, who wore her hard hat to ICAN the very next day.