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Washington, D.C. Teens Building Their Future

In Washington, D.C., young adults are hard pressed to find opportunities for work within the city. Sasha Bruce Youthwork is one of the few organizations dedicated to not only providing teenagers with work, but training them towards a trade. The group develops construction projects for volunteer professionals and teen trainees to complete, which helps to improve the community through the involvement of its young people.

Recently, was on the scene for one of the organization’s “blitz build” efforts, which is designed for the renovation of an entire house in a single day. Some 120 volunteers, many of whom were in the area for the American Institute of Architects conference, leant their support to the project. Together with 20 trainees a rundown house is stripped down and refitted, much like one would see on HGTV.

“[On] those shows, they don’t really know all the stuff that goes in before they go on camera,” Jim Beck, Sasha Bruce’s development director, told NPR. “There’s a lot of prep that has to go [into it].” Part of that preparation includes guiding the teenage trainees, who spent the weeks leading up to the blitz build gutting the insides of the house.

Domingo Williams, an 18-year-old involved with the project, described his initial fears when the project began. “I thought there were going to be raccoons up here and everything,” he says. “But I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be like when it’s finished.” Williams is just one of the trainees who hope to receive career placement through the program after receiving his certification for construction.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork is looking to place more than half of the current class of trainees into internships, which will hopefully lead to full-time work. Of those who have already graduated the program, 80 percent are currently employed or enrolled in further schooling.

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