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A graduation ceremony was held today for the first Project Rebuild class, with six members receiving certificates for completing a workforce readiness program for 18- to 25-year-olds looking to rebuild their lives.
A partnership between Danville Community College and the City of Danville, Project Rebuild provides free 10- to 30-day training for construction, carpentry, electrical, plumbing and welding. No GED or high school diploma is required.
“I am so proud of you all. You are the first (graduates), and to me, that is proof of what you need and what we have works,” said Jacqueline Gill Powell, president of DCC. “I want to encourage you to not let this stop. You have proven to yourself and to your family, to your teacher, and to all of us that you have what it takes to make it and be successful. Please continue on.”
Robert David, the gang violence prevention and youth services coordinator for the City of Danville, brought the program’s vision to DCC.
“I didn’t believe that a mistake or a (bad) decision or an opportunity you didn’t take when you were 15, 16 or 17, should be the determining factor of your life,” said David, who serves as vice-chair on the Danville Community College Advisory Board. “That is why we call it ‘Rebuild.’ This an opportunity to rebuild your life and rebuild your dreams. … Second chances are an opportunity and the pathway to a greater future. Just keep pushing forward.”
All six of today’s graduates have chosen to continue their workforce training, with five enrolling in the electrical and plumbing classes and one enrolling in the carpentry class. They also had the option of taking an apprenticeship or seeking a job now.
The next Project Rebuild core class, which teaches the construction trade basics, will begin next month. Twelve students have already enrolled. DCC officials said core classes will be offered every six to eight weeks.
The program is an extension of the City of Danville’s Project Imagine, which is a work readiness program geared toward giving gang-affiliated teens a future off the streets. Project Imagine last year was named the winner of the Virginia Municipal League’s President’s Award, the top award for innovative solutions by a local government.