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Construction Careers Foundation Partners with Saint Paul Public School’s Flipside Program to Bring the Joy of Building to Students

Many Minnesota students take part in after-school and summer programming that caters to homework assistance, sports, and quality time with their peers. In St. Paul, The Flipside program goes one step further by engaging students in unique enrichment activities through numerous organizational partnerships that promote hands-on learning activities and helping students explore real life careers.

Flipside is part of Saint Paul Public School’s Community Education Department and is funded by the Federal government and administered by the Minnesota Department of Education as free summer programming for the entire St. Paul school district.

“From July 25 – July 28, we are running a pilot program where each of our community partners, such as Construction Careers Foundation, will run their own activity at our Central High School site,” said Darcy Holle, St. Paul Public Schools Program Coordinator. “We’re looking forward to hosting the Construction Careers Foundation and having them walk our students through careers in the construction trades and instruct students on interactive building projects.”

Lindsay Tallman is program director for the Construction Careers Foundation, a Minneapolis-St. Paul-based nonprofit dedicated to exposing young people, especially young women and people of color, to careers in construction. Tallman is thrilled to partner with Flipside because both programs provide students and their families with the opportunity to access construction activities that they may not otherwise get to experience. For the Construction Careers Foundation, the partnership allows the organization to give young people direct, hands-on experience with construction-related activities and introduces them to rewarding career in the trades.

This summer’s Flipside participants range from 5th to 9th grade and the program runs four days a week, providing free bus transportation and breakfast and lunch for the students.

The Construction Careers Foundation supplied funding to Flipside for materials for construction projects such as marshmallow launchers, bird feeders, popsicle bridges and tiling and grout for the top of a three-legged stool.

“STEM elements are present in all of our activities,” Tallman said. “It’s about showing students that the math they are learning is more than just equations on paper. These projects showcase real world applications and functions of math and students get to brainstorm the design process and get creative with their projects.”

Participants in the program will take part in team building activities and exercise their bodies and their creativity in a tool scavenger hunt and a personal protective equipment (PPE) race.

Holle and team are using the Flipside program as a trial for future partnerships with the hope that student response will be positive toward bringing the program back for another session this fall.

“Having a variety of community partners and activities to run allows us to evaluate our programming and assess students’ needs and interests,” Holle said. “We will check in with our students regularly and we plan to run focus groups throughout the duration of the program to see which projects and activities they respond to the best.”

Construction Careers Foundation and Flipside are eager to see the students’ response to the programming, but more than anything, both organizations are excited to provide students with opportunities to see their peers and have much-needed social interaction, which many students missed during the pandemic.

“We just want to see the students having fun outside of the normal school day,” Holle said. “We want to bring that joy back and get them using their hands and channel all of that pent up energy into constructing something. They need something fun right now and Construction Careers Foundation courses will give them that excitement back.”

Bring Construction Careers Foundation Activities to your Classroom 

Students, parents, and educators can visit ConstructionCareers.org to explore 30+ careers in the union construction industry, have access to valuable information regarding apprenticeships, read about the experiences of current construction apprentices in Minnesota, and more.

Interested in bringing construction career programming to your school? Connect with Construction Careers Foundation Program Director Lindsay Tallman at lindsay@constructioncareers.org.