ZCAF is training a new generation of carpenters through its Mobile Woodshop.
The Mobile Woodshop (MSW), an experiential classroom on wheels, is helping to disrupt poverty by offering carpentry training for long term economic stability. Preparation for apprenticeships in the building trades is a major goal.
In September 2021, ZCAF launched its Pre-Apprenticeship Carpentry Training (PACT) to combat national labor shortages in the building trades. “Carpentry is the number one endangered trade in the country according to the National Association of Home Builders,” said Margery Goldberg, ZCAF founder and Director. PACT addresses the crisis by cultivating technical and employability skills particularly among young men and women of color, who are conspicuously under-represented in the construction industry. It also stands out by offering tuition-free training and weekly stipends to students at DCPS’ Ballou STAY Opportunity Academy in Ward 8.
Students use the rigorous curriculum of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, which steers participants toward industry certifications and competitive paid apprenticeships upon course completion. The physical anchor for this unique Mobile Woodshop program is a 20-foot box truck carrying tools and materials for use either inside or outside the cargo area. Because the workspace is limited to 160 square feet, however, an adjacent 10’ x 20’ canopy has been added. Ballou STAY HS has provided a classroom with the latest audiovisual equipment.
Goals of the program
Building career pathways to economic stability by creating a new vocational program for lower income post-high school students within the DCPS. The course includes financial literacy and prudent use of student stipends. Focused on carpentry, the program cultivates employability practices applicable in many other fields.
Strengthening access to high-quality employment by tapping Union expertise in professional curriculum development, staff recruitment, certification standards and potential job placement. The Union advisor, who currently earns a six-figure salary, serves as a role model to students who have grown up in the same kind of neighborhood that he did.
Engaging companies in construction and specialty woodworking who might be interested in using PACT interns.
Technical Skill Development
The Skill Matrixes of the Career Connections textbooks represent the core of our step-by-step instruction, conveyed to students through verbal directions, detailed photos and drawings, teacher tool demonstration, and student practice. Safe use of equipment is always in focus. Acquired skills are then applied to a variety of construction projects.
All projects are based on learning sequential woodworking skills, such as:
Using measuring tools such as combination square, compass, framing square, speed square, straight edge.
Using hand tools such as saws, block planes, chisels, clamps, handsaw, hammer, nail set, rasp.
Using power tools, such as circular saws, miter saw, drill, orbital sander, router, saber saw, screw gun.
DC Public School provides a host site at Ballou STAY High School in Ward 8, which supplies truck parking and classroom space, selects students, and monitors progress. DCPS also partially funds student stipends for our tuition-free courses.
Another partner, the Carpenters Union, supplies a rigorous curriculum (Career Connections) and certification of skill proficiency. A recently hired carpentry instructor brings experience not only as a Union professional, but also as an ANC Commissioner in Ward 8—another community linkage.
Graduation on June 22, 2022 at Ballou STAY Opportunity Academy
In total, 12 Pre-Apprenticeship Carpentry Training students received Certificate 1 and Certificate 2 from the Carpenters Union. Development of technical skills, completion of projects and improvement of soft skills brought new confidence and competence to students who completed the Union certificates. As an example, a young woman who was timid and completely unfamiliar with tools, became the star pupil by the end of the semester. Three young men who completed Project book 2 have created a community project.
ZCAF seeks funds for its Mobile Woodshop program, which is helping to disrupt poverty by offering carpentry training for long term economic stability and for apprenticeships in the building trades.
Founded by Margery Goldberg in 2000, Zenith Community Arts Foundation (ZCAF) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, committed to arts advocacy, arts education, and public art, as well as using art and creativity to enrich the Greater Washington DC area, with an emphasis on our local community. Based in the Shepherd Park neighborhood of Ward 4, ZCAF achieves our goals by fostering alliances between area artists, businesses, other non-profits, and government agencies.