We have been operating in St. Louis since 2002 and started small working with the students at the Construction Careers Center with financial support from the AGC. We had 10-15 students, depending on the year, and a handful of mentors. When the school closed in 2015, we took a bit of a hiatus and came back 18 months later with a fundraising plan, a new partnership with St Louis Public Schools and have been expanding ever since.
We are currently working with three high schools in the city, 30--45 students total. Our partner schools are KIPP: St Louis High School, Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School, and Roosevelt High School. Our meetings start in late October and finish in late April/early May. We meet after school every other Wednesday from 3:00-4:30.
We typically do several things each year to give the students the biggest exposure to the entire industry and what their post high school options might be. Our calendar for the year will include a visit a university, technical school, or community college. We will take them to see an architecture, engineering, or a contractor's office, and then will visit one of the trade schools. We will get them on at least two active construction sites per year. And then do a design project spanning several months which varies by year and interests of the students.
We officially launched our scholarship program last year. We offer two types. The first one is for students who have participated in ACE for at least 2 years, is a junior or senior, and will enroll in an industry related field of study or apprenticeship. This is offered at up to 1,000 per year, for four years. The second scholarship offered is for summer camp. We offer to pay for or reimburse costs of one camp per summer in an industry related field.
Our mentors are working in the industry in one form or another, just over 30 registered for this year. We like to have as many disciplines represented as possible at each school so there is someone there to connect with a student whatever his or her interest may be. We have several of architects and engineers volunteering and are hoping to have more representation from the construction industry as well!
We ask that mentors attend as many meetings as they can. We understand that project deadlines and travel will always take priority, but the best mentoring happens when our students really connect with and get to know their mentors. All mentors must register on the website (http://www.acementor.org/). After filling out the forms, a short training module, 5-10 minutes, will be required. Registration and training are required every year. Once the registration and training are complete, a background check is ordered. When approved, they are good for three years. Once all of that is complete, mentors are assigned to one of the three schools and ready to go. We also have a mentor kick-off meeting at the beginning of the year and a lessons learned meeting at the end of the year to get all the mentors in one place and listen to what worked and what didn’t, and then adjust accordingly.
Our Board of Directors (BOD) currently has 12 members with representatives from many areas of our industry, including professionals representing owners and educators. Our board meets once monthly as a large group and in smaller subcommittee groups as scheduled. Current subcommittees include: Scholarships, Mentor Recruiting, Fundraising and Event Planning, BOD recruitment, social media and website development, and alumni.
Copyright © 2020 ACE Mentor Program of America