“Plans are useless; but planning is invaluable,” as Winston Churchill said.  And in 2020 that wisdom speaks volumes. This year FCF assisted the construction industry when plans needed changing.  We provided visual creative services for the Building Strong Communities Program (BSC), which was designed and managed by the Metropolitan Council, but required many participants.

BSC is a construction and building apprenticeship preparatory program with a mission to expand the diversity of the talent pool and develop new workers. The majority of participants are women and people of color, who were largely unaware of the opportunities in the building trades. It’s a collaboration among ten unions, Met Council, Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry, Construction Careers Foundation, Ramsey County, Minnesota Department of Transportation, community-based organizations, developers and North Hennepin Community College.

The first group of BSC students came together in the winter of 2020 expecting the that classes would be done by early spring. These plans changed with COVID and civil unrest. The BSC program canceled all in-person activities and shifted from in-person learning into a virtual classroom.

Leadership in the Trades asked if we could help. FCF produced seven videos ranging from 40-60 minutes in length, six of which were guided tours by each  training director. “FCF was instrumental in shifting to trade exploration modules that entailed informational/virtual tour videos, followed by interactive trade and JATC leadership discussion webex sessions,” explained Jenny Winklaar, with the Operating Engineers Local 49 and one of the co-administrators of the BSC Program. The videos also included work demonstrations for the potential apprentices to see what skills each trade requires and what a day of school at the facility was like.

“Serving as the backbone of the BSC program curriculum, these videos played a foundational part in helping participants identify and pursue a trade. Feedback from participants show a high level of appreciation and enjoyment of the videos,” said Aaron Koski, workforce manager with Met Council. The videos will also be a part of the curriculum for the 2021 class. 

Despite these obstacles, the BSC program successfully has placed 13 females and people of color into more than six different trades. The program recognized its first graduating class with a virtual celebration on Sept. 30.  We’re proud to help.