Since 2003, the Center for Dynamic Learning (CDL) has existed to provide students the opportunity to gain practical skills through real life experiences. Over the past 15+ years, the organization has followed a simple motto: “Teach beyond the classroom and they’ll reach beyond the classroom.” Thus far, this has served them and kids in Rhode Island quite well.
The Center’s Teen Apprenticeship Program (TAP), which launched just this past summer and has a fall/winter session that runs from mid September to December, serves 60 students ages 14-18. The participants are part of a workforce that is remodeling six to ten low-income homes for families who cannot afford necessary upgrades due to financial constraints. Folks in need get a leg-up, and the students get valuable, marketable skills.
According to Kevin Cunha, CEO and principal engineer, the twofold nature of TAP is what makes it so important, and not just to the beneficiaries and the participants, but to the entire state by inspiring and creating more future trade professionals for the region. “TAP students can learn project planning, engineering, manufacturing, and construction so that they are absolutely prepared for careers in STEAMM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics, and manufacturing)-based fields which are in high demand in Rhode Island and abroad,” he says.
While the CDL did get some grant funding from the Governor’s Workforce Board, Kevin says that they are still short on both fiscal and raw materials and are asking for help in order to ensure that they reach their goal of renovating at least five homes on the south side of Providence before the end of the year. Kevin estimates that the CDL needs to raise $30,000 to cover materials for both the summer and fall/winter sessions. They are also accepting materials from area businesses to help with their efforts.
“We are hoping that local hardware stores, paint shops, etc. will help pay it forward and provide us with the materials that the grant could not cover, such as landscaping and building materials,” he says.
Students who participate in the program not only earn college credits for Engineering, Manufacturing, and Technology from Roger Williams University (RWU), but also a stipend of $450-$600 depending on their experience within the program. CDL is not part of RWU; they have a memorandum of understanding for an endorsement and accreditation for their five STEAMM programs.
In addition to AP participants earning money, college credits, OSHA 10/CPR/First Aid/AED certification, and learning skills that they can take to the marketplace in the future, Kevin says that there is a sense of satisfaction that comes with providing a valuable service for those in need.
“The CDL staff and our students believe that everyone should have a wonderful home to return to after a long day of work or school,” he says, adding, “a home to be proud of.”