Building Futures Changing Lives

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Robison Wells
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A year ago, Jaqueline Haller was homeless, addicted to drugs and behind bars. Today she is starting an apprenticeship with the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 189, as part of the Building Futures program.

Building Futures, a 12-week pre-apprenticeship program, was started in Ohio in 2017, by Franklin County, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Columbus Urban League. The county has invested $1 million in the program as a way to combat poverty. Graduates have landed jobs earning anywhere from $17 to $27 per hour.

Haller recounts her time before the program: “I was hopeless.I went though several overdoses. By the grace of God, I’m still here. [Building Futures] broke down a lot of barriers that were standing in our way. They’ve given us hope. They’ve not only offered a way to help us get jobs, they’recreating careers for us.”

More than 60 people have graduated from the program since 2017. One current enrollee is Dominique Jackson, who is training in ironworking. “I’m getting the hang of it. I’ve got a nice crew teaching me the ropes and everything.” He has had other construction jobs in the past, but they’ve always been temporary. Now, through the program, he has landed a full apprenticeship through Iron Workers Local 172.

Says Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce, “the best social service is a good-paying job. If you invest in yourself, if you take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you, good things willhappen.”

“This program is working,” said Joy Bivens, county Job and Family Services director. “When you see people who have experienced some of the most-extreme, vulnerable circumstances as it relates to poverty, and they walkout of here making a livable wage, it is working. When parents can feed their kids, and people can pay their rent, and people can go to work ... this program is working.”

To read more about Building Futures, check out Dispatch.com.

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