Building the Future: Youth Build Philly Engagement

The women of Smith Flooring Inc. delivered an uplifting talk to the girls of Youth Build Philadelphia Charter School on North Broad Street. They emphasized the importance of perseverance and shed light on the fact that women are still vastly under-represented within the construction industry.

Since 1992, YouthBuild Philadelphia has helped former high school dropouts reclaim their education and build a brighter future for themselves through education, job training and service.

The program has grown over the past two decades – from existing inside a single classroom to being one of the largest YouthBuild programs in the US – but remains true to its core mission and purpose: helping motivated young people succeed.

Jelissa, our Jr. Project Manager said: “Females represent less than 3% of the construction workforce. We need to work together to change that.”

“The range of work in the construction industry is diverse, from sales and marketing, trades, engineering and architecture. It offers flexibility during a working life which is often overlooked – and in a world where jobs that are life sustaining is rare.”

The message from the women of Smith Flooring was very personal and intimate. By telling their own story they were able to identify with the backgrounds of the the young women present and spoke to their interests and potential careers in the industry.

President, Kristin Smith, explained that her story isn’t very different than the girls at the table, having had children young,  working to provide for them, she had no idea she would end up owning a a construction business.  Sales and marketing director, Angelique Hunter, expressed that a career in construction can be very lucrative and can help fund other avenues of interest.

Jr. Project Manager,  Jelissa Jones brought yet another prospective to the conversation by explaining her college experience, including being ok with the uncertainty of a career path. She authentically talked through how she began her career in construction, her goals and what it entails.

In addition to the storytelling and lunch,  the engagement closed with the Youth Build girls opening up about their own stories and concerns for the future. They also had many questions concerning entrepreneurship and apprenticeship which was answered with authentic answers from the women who live it everyday. The central message, no matter the circumstances, never give up.

Smith Flooring has a commitment to community and paying it forward. We are eager to listen, learn from and guide the young women in the communities around us.