Providing Tools for Growth
As The Challenge Program was putting the finishing touches on a new construction training facility, the organization needed a hand to complete the project. First State Community Loan Fund provided a measure of funding to help get the facility open and operating.
The Challenge Program helps young people ages 18-21 learn carpentry and construction techniques that they can use in the workplace. Generally from poor or foster families, trainees enrolled in the program complete 700 hours of site-based construction training and education classes at various locations in Wilmington.
About two years ago, says Executive Director, Andrew McKnight, the organization decided to expand training capacity and space by building a new, larger facility on the Wilmington riverfront. Along with providing more shop space, classrooms and offices, the project included progressive "green" building techniques and materials.
The building project began in September of 2009. As work entered the final stages in the autumn of 2010, McKnight said some additional funds were needed to get the facility finished. That's when he started talking with Van Hampton at First State Community Loan Fund about what could be done and would best fit their mutual goals.
The result was the facility securing a $150,000 loan in February 2011. The funds are helping The Challenge Program get its certificate of occupancy and get the new facility running. "Now we'll be able to work with almost twice as many kids, plus do more types of instruction," McKnight says.
It was The Challenge Program's first experience with First State, and McKnight says he would certainly consider working with the people and organization again. "They were very helpful and community-minded people who were easy to work with."
With the finishing touches complete, the day-to-day work of The Challenge Program can continue to grow – giving young adults the opportunity, skills and tools to build solid structures and lives in their community.