This innovative school blends skills training and housing security

In Birmingham, Alabama, a new school has opened up that is teaching young men and women how to renovate homes while building generational wealth and combating blight. The school is called Build UP (Urban Prosperity) Birmingham, and it features a radically different curriculum compared to other schools in the country.

Besides the usual courses needed to get their high-school diploma, ninth-graders that enter the school, who are primarily low-income, are trained as construction workers through paid apprenticeships where they learn how to remodel homes. Along the way, they also earn their associate’s degree, and when they finish the program at the age of 20 or 21, they can move into one of the newly remodeled homes.

On top of that, they also have the option to eventually buy that house.

The idea behind Build UP, which opened in 2018, came from educator Mark Martin, who recognized how ill-equipped young people are to tackle larger societal issues when they graduate from school.

“The kids that I’ve worked with my entire career have all been from pretty tough backgrounds in really low-income areas with very limited options and all the challenges that come in the door with the poverty,” he says.

By focusing on housing, one of the major challenges facing students and their families in Birmingham, Build UP is providing valuable skills to its students while fixing decaying houses in the local area, many of which have stood empty for decades.

At The Optimist Daily, we love seeing innovative education solutions like this. If you know of any groundbreaking education programs in your local area, feel free to reach out to us right here!

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