In the aftermath of the Ferguson unrest five years ago, the Construction Career Development Initiative known as CCDI was founded by construction engineering company Clayco to provide a program for selected young adults in North St. Louis County to help them overcome barriers to success. CCDI pairs participants in long-term, one-on-one mentorship, offers financial support for college and creates opportunities for job placement.
“Clayco is proud to support the efforts of CCDI, a non-profit organization that brings diversity to the design and construction industry by mentoring and exposing minority/underrepresented and under employed men and women to career development in construction in Chicago and St. Louis,” the company states.
Clayco’s vision and ultimate goal with CCDI is to support workforce diversity and bridge the gap in workforce development. Clayco realized this task could not be completed alone, and the initiative has grown over the past five years to include St. Louis community partnerships with school districts, local leaders, contractors and subcontractors.
CCDI’s mission is to bring diversity to the design and construction industry by mentoring and exposing minority, underrepresented students to career development in construction by assisting graduates of its program to career placement. CCDI coordinates guest speakers, field trips and events for the students in the construction program.
CCDI has a Build Our Future annual scholarship that is awarded to top-qualifying high school seniors who exhibit a desire to pursue employment in construction engineering, architecture, or construction/project management. CCDI has awarded this scholarship since its inception in 2015 and has assisted over 25 students with scholarships to pursue higher education. CCDI partnerships include the University of Missouri-St. Louis/Washington University Joint Engineering Program, Missouri Science and Technology, Missouri Western and Ranken.
In addition to financial assistance, CCDI offers guidance, tutoring and mentorship throughout the students' collegiate journey, from job shadowing to internships, to career placement. The Build Our Future scholarship is not just for four-year bound college students. CCDI has several apprentice scholars who work full-time in the field and attend college classes in the evenings. “These students aspire to work their way up the industry pipeline while obtaining valuable on the job training.”
Four CCDI participants were awarded four Build Our Future scholarships on March 31. Each recipient completed an extensive scholarship application that required personal essays, multiple letters of recommendation and a virtual interview with the CCDI Education Committee. They each wrote an essay on how this scholarship would help to build their future and long-term career plans as an engineer, architect or construction/project manager and how they could use their future degree to help build the foundation for change in their community.
This year's Build Our Future scholarship recipients are:
Catalina, from Ritenour High School. She will attend Mizzou to study Civil Engineering. Catalina said she wants to be in the construction field because she has always been fascinated with how buildings and bridges are constructed. Catalina is also a first-generation college student and motivated to be the first in her family to earn a degree.
Malik, from Jennings High School, who will attend Harvard University to study Architectural Engineering. Malik has been in the CCDI program since his sophomore year. He is mentored by Jesse Sanders, director of IT Infrastructure at Clayco. Malik attended monthly Saturday academies, where he learned about the art and design of the construction industry and developed an interest in architecture. Malik is the valedictorian of his senior class.
Christopher, from Hazelwood East and North Tech high schools, will attend State Tech and then transfer to the University of Central Missouri to study Construction Management. CCDI worked closely with Christopher through its partnership with North Technical High School, where CCDI learned about Christopher's determination to overcome the odds and be the first person in his family to attend college.
Rashad is currently studying Civil Engineering through the University of Missouri-St. Louis/Washington University Joint Engineering Program. CCDI helped to set Rashad up with an internship this past summer. He spent eight weeks visiting and learning about Clayco and about minority owned engineering firms in the St. Louis area. Rashad has been an active student leader in the CCDI program and will be interning full time at Clayco this summer.
The Build Our FutureScholarships would not be possible without the annual donations from local businesses and subcontractors in the St. Louis community. Because of their generous donations, CCDI can continue to impact our future generation of industry leaders.