June 16, 2014 Housing Action Coalition

CIWI Creates Opportunity for First Generation College Students

CIWI ProgramMonica Wilson (center) with CIWI interns
The SFHAC is a proud outreach partner of  Construction Workforce Industry Initiative (CIWI). Now in its third year, CIWI is creating once in a lifetime opportunities for low-income, first generation college students interested in all facets of the construction field. Check out our interview with Program Director Monica Wilson to learn all about CIWI and how you can get involved.
Why did you start CIWI?
To provide exposure, experience and opportunity for low-income, first generation college students that have an interest in construction management, real estate development, civic engagement, and A&E. CIWI’s goal has always been to create opportunities for students interested in the professional side of construction so that they can have careers as Project Engineers, Project Managers, Estimaters, as well as Developers, and Architect and Engineers.
In 2012, we had only two interns, and this summer, we’ve reached our goal of providing 10 internship positions. The growth has been slow, steady, and sustainable. We have also focused on the programs infrastructure (partnering with Community Initiatives, our fiscal sponsor), developing a CIWI web site and an Alumni Program, and program assessment and monitoring tools, to keep us on point.
How is the program set up?
CIWI includes the following three core components
– Internship Component: June through August (12 weeks), 20 hours per week, totaling 240 hours of direct experience.
– Leadership Component: Participating in community, civic and related industry meetings such as Commission for Community Investment and Infrastructure (CCII), San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC) and SPUR.
– Mentorship Component:  Speaker series including presentations from industry representatives, one-on-one counseling and small group events, such as a Resume and Cover Letter Workshop.
Each year, we try to expand our partners and program and one of the best partner investments we have made has been with SFHAC.  SFHAC was an early and committed supporter of CIWI and always offers our interns opportunities to participate and be heard.
CIWI interns love attending the Project Review Meetings. It is such valuable exposure to what it takes to not only make a solid presentation on a planned development, but the tremendous amount of predevelopment and planning work it takes to put a development together. The interns are asked to engage, ask questions, and be part of the discussion. They love it.
All of the interns will learn technical skills over the summer such as in Document Control (RFIs and Submittals), participating in site inspections, reviewing construction documents and plans, and finalizing Project Close Out documentation, etc. but we also want to provide opportunities for students to learn about the sheer amount of due diligence and planning it requires to get a project through the design and entitlement phases and so sitting in at SFHAC meetings is invaluable.
Who have you partnered with for the internship program?
CIWI has roots in both SF and the East Bay.
CIWI has grown from one General Contractor, our Founding Partner, Cahill Contractors to an impressive team of seven General Contractors and Developers, including  Nibbi Brothers, Strada Investment Group, Roberts-Obayashi, John Stewart Company, BBI Construction and McGuire and Hester plus Cahill Contractors.
To assist in identifying students for interview/recruitment, we have partnered with three great organizations that work with students to get them to and through college. Our partners include Juma Ventures, College Track, and East Bay College Fund.  They are key and extremely valuable partners that provide a critical role in coordinating our outreach, identifying potential candidates, and providing space to have workshops, team meetings, etc.
In 2014, we developed a strategic plan to identify and recruit young adults from San Francisco’s District 10. I am pleased to say that all of our San Francisco CIWI interns are from D10.
What have the interns’ experiences been like?
I think for most, the internship may be the proverbial “lightbulb or A-ha moment” – the time that helps them shape their interest, technical skills and passion for pursuing a career in construction/real estate, as well as to know that there are numerous people, firms, mentors, and associations that are committed to their success. We try to stress the importance of developing their network, familiarity with the Bay Area construction industry and development trends. We have recently developed an Alumni program, and both graduates are still working with Cahill, and both are from D10.  We are very proud of that.
As well, based on our GC/Developer Team, many of the interns are working on very high profile developments including Hunters View and HOPE SF, and on developments within Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure’s (OCII) Project Areas including Hunters Point Shipyard, Transbay, and Mission Bay.
How can SFHAC members get involved?
There is still an opportunity to participate in CIWI 2014. While we have raised 100% of the Internship component funds, we are looking for a few financial partners to fund project expenses which are vital to the success of the program. And for sure, we want to continue to expand the program in 2015 with new internship positions, as well as professional guest speakers, and site tour, etc. Before you know it, it will time to plan CIWI 2015.
To learn more about how you can get involved, visit the CIWI website at www.ciwi-bayarea.org or contact Program Director Monica Wilson at monica.wilson.ciwi@gmail.com.

Housing Action Coalition

The Housing Action Coalition is a member-supported non-profit that advocates for the creation of well designed, well-located housing at all levels of affordability. We believe more housing means more choices and better solutions.

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