‘Build Baltimore Gala’ to Raise Awareness of Skilled Trades & Fund Future JumpStart Classes

Ally D'Ovidio

A Message from Matthew Bolyard,
ABC Baltimore 2016 Chairman of the Board

Dear Fellow ABC Baltimore Member:

Last spring, when unrest was tearing apart our City we had the idea of surveying our 70 ABC chapters across the country.

We asked them what they thought about Baltimore before the riots and we asked them what they thought afterward. Their perception of Baltimore prior to the events of April was very positive. Most had been here before and had good memories.

As to their perception after the unrest, their opinions were equally negative. It was clear that our brand, as a City, had been severely damaged.

We considered as an organization how we would respond to these events; we had some pretty ambitious ideas. But at the end, we decided to stick with what we do best: Workforce Development.

Nearly 10 years ago, we created a pre-apprenticeship and job placement program called Project JumpStart. This is a comprehensive pre-apprenticeship program where we train students in construction math, safety, hands-on projects and heavy doses of workforce readiness.

In the past 10 years, 650 City residents have been enrolled:

· 80 percent graduate

· 75 percent are placed into high-wage construction careers

· And nearly 100 have enrolled in a formal apprenticeship program

Great programs like this don’t happen in a vacuum. We have great partners, many of which are household names. Great employers like:

· Johns Hopkins University

· Exelon

· The Johns Hopkins Medical Center

· Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

· Mayor’s Office for Employment Development

· Vehicles for Change

· And several contracting firms have hired our graduates, including: Benfield Electric; C.L. McCoy; Hirsch Electric; Lewis Contractors; Mahogany, Inc.; Miles Electric; Mahogany, Inc.; to name just a few (including my own, Southway Builders!).

In fact, over 150 contractors have hired JumpStart graduates. JumpStart graduates are getting jobs. That fact alone sets us apart from many of the so-called “workforce development” programs in the City. In fact, they are not just getting jobs, but they now have careers, as journeymen, and supervisors.

But we wanted to do more.

ABC is not only a professional trade organization ¬â€œ we recognize we are part of a larger community. We want more people to get trained. We want more people to get jobs. We want to change more lives and in doing so, regain our foothold as “The Greatest City in America!”

We wanted to go beyond JumpStart.

We wanted to see if we could leverage the lessons learned over the past 10 years and have Project JumpStart serve as the elite paradigm in how funders, government officials and businesses think and evaluate these kind of programs.

We spent the summer speaking with senior officials in the Hogan Administration and the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, as well as the business leaders from the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, to not only educate them on what we are doing with JumpStart, but to also start the conversation about what the business community can do to help champion workforce development and mentoring.

We are very pleased to let you know about a special event we will be hosting on January 30 as we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the most successful workforce development program in the region, Project JumpStart.

Introducing the BUILD BALTIMORE Gala, where we will honor graduates, partners, employers and all of those who have played a pivotal role in the program’s success.

We are even more pleased to let you know our keynote speaker will be Baltimore native, Mike Rowe, currently host of CNN’s ¬ËœSomebody’s Gotta Do It.’ For ten years, Mike hosted the popular ¬ËœDirty Jobs’ where, as he traveled to all 50 states and completed 300 different jobs, from lumberjack to coal miner to a waterman, he became known as the ¬ËœDirtiest Man in America.’

Mike is renowned for his unrivaled advocacy for workforce development. His foundation, mikeroweWORKS, started the Profoundly Disconnected campaign “to challenge the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success.”

Proceeds from this event will go to help us train more JumpStart students and provide more opportunity for City residents.

We thank you for all you do for this organization, this industry and for recognizing that we are at “mission critical” with the City of Baltimore.

We hope we will see YOU, January 30, 2016, as we celebrate an important milestone in workforce development and the future of the City of Baltimore.

Thank you,
Matthew Bolyard,
Southway Builders
2016 Chairman, ABC Baltimore