How about this for a recipe for success? Take one of the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s houses. Add in the youth of King’s Sons 820. Liberally seasoned with workforce development and character building, and in the end you have a renovated house ready for sale and newly trained and proud young men!
This is exactly what the Cuyahoga Land Bank and King’s Sons 820, Inc., cooked up last year when they partnered to help at-risk and troubled youth by providing workforce and life skills training.
In 2013, King’s Sons 820 founder, William Foster, approached the Cuyahoga Land Bank with a desire to expand programming to include character building, financial literacy, spiritual guidance and workforce development. This programming will teach young men about discipline, hard work and construction skills. Foster worked with trained contractors to instruct and supervise the men in the renovation project, and the Cuyahoga Land Bank contributed a home for them to renovate.
In the program, men, age 16 to 24, learn the fundamentals of the construction trade from licensed professionals that donate their time to King’s Sons 820. They get paid $8 an hour during training and are offered tuition assistance to pursue higher training.
“This new workforce training program teaches our men to work with their hands, their minds, and their hearts,” said Foster. “They learn the principles of construction, as well as how to work as a team, respect authority, follow directions and challenge themselves.”
Demetrius Harvey, 18, said, “I’m gaining an influx of knowledge on how to paint, lay down tile, and hammer correctly. We are learning not just to get it done, but how to do it right. It’s great to learn a skill – no one can take it away from you.”
Harvey was one of the young men that renovated the first home last summer through the workforce development program. He is now a student at Cleveland State, he is OSHA certified, and is considering a career in project management or design.
“For me, this experience was about growth and training,” said Michael Booker, 22, who is studying to be an electrical engineer. “I learned to be more outgoing and how to interact with people on the job. When you work together in a close environment and you are all learning, you see your own flaws and those of others pretty quickly. I learned it’s all about how you push each other to accomplish the goals for the day.”
The youth training program starts at 16. However, boys as young as nine joined King’s Sons 820 and got their hands dirty on this jobsite. Eric Adams, 10, and brothers Jordan, 12, and Johnathan Medley, 13, worked together to plant flowers and shrubs around the property.
“The younger boys are learning that the principles you need to apply to be a good man are also the principles of a good worker,” said Foster. “By participating, they are able to be a part of the overall bonding and learning experience and are excited about potentially going through the program.”
King’s Sons 820 recently sold the renovated home in Euclid. They are holding the proceeds for the next house, which they hope to acquire soon. They have already recruited more eager men into the development program. These men are just waiting for the next chance to cook up success on their next renovation project.