June 15, 2023
Building the future - and houses!
Student’s idea sparks new program and vocational training
It started with baseball.
11 years ago, Carver Vocational-Technical High School’s baseball coach Michael Rosenband convened a brainstorming session with his team. The challenge: getting the team to their home field (two miles away from the school) without regular access to transportation. The result was a student-led initiative to successfully raise money and buy a van.
The experience instilled in the team a belief that they had the ability to solve problems–especially when they worked together. The lesson stuck.
For then-senior Sterling Hardy, the van was only the beginning. He started thinking of ways to use problem-solving to enhance his learning and access hands-on experiences that support Carver’s CTE (Career and Technical Education) pathways. As he explained, “I said, ‘Coach, we got baseball figured out. And now we’re graduating with these skills in trades without the experience to be hired. But we have these vacant houses sitting right across the street (from Carver). Why can’t we use our trades to fix them up and gain experience?’”
Little did Sterling know, but his idea would impact hundreds of Carver students who followed him.
In 2020, Coach Mike and Sterling created the nonprofit Requity Foundation Inc. to provide students with vocational experiences that lead to meaningful jobs. The group purchased a vacant home on Presstman Street - right across from Carver - and got to work on renovating the house. Today, students are gaining experience through projects at the house that align with and expand classroom learning.
Whether a student’s CTE pathway is construction, business, or marketing, the Carver House offers meaningful learning experiences. Students have demolished the porch, built risers to replace crumbling steps, participated in foundation depth testing, and drafted schematics for the house.
Students are also learning about Passive House Standards (an environmental standard that this house will meet), the permitting process, the finances of home buying and renovation, how to track and report on project progress, and construction safety. Thanks to a “slow-build” process, students have ample time to learn and explore. It also enables the nonprofit to secure support from partners - including $150,000 from ADT and a grant from the Michael Jordan Foundation through the Jordan Brand Black Community Commitment Grant.
Coach Rosenband regularly tells Carver’s teachers what work is coming up so that they can incorporate it into their classroom lessons.
“Every opportunity to engage students and provide meaningful learning that brings context to their lives is worth pursuing,” said Coach Rosenband. “And in a project like this, those opportunities are endless. This is a grassroots project having an impact and showcasing our amazing students as problem solvers.”
Said Barbara Dziedzic, City Schools Career Readiness Manager, “This project encapsulates the purpose of CTE in our schools. Students are acting as problem solvers for their community, collaborating and learning along the way. It’s a project that has captured the imagination of so many.”
This summer, students working on Carver House will be paid by YouthWorks; they will beautify an entire block, build a tiny house from a mock up wall they built for Carver House, and build out the new Requity headquarters space.
Once the house is complete, Requity plans to sell it to a local, lower income earning, first-time home buyer. They then plan to replicate this model with similar homes both in proximity to Carver and near other schools.
“In high school, this was just an idea,” explained Sterling Hardy. “But to actually see it become real - it’s a great feeling. We don’t want these kids to give up. We want them to know that somebody is always going to be there to help them out and guide them. If we can be that stepping stone, we should be.”