Colorado State University and the Universidad Iberoamericana and Mi Casa Resource Center this week were awarded a grant to teach green construction skills to Tijuana, Mexico, residents in an effort to improve job opportunities and counter poverty in the city.
The project, called the Green Construction Human and Institutional Capacity Development Program, aims to train youth from Tijuana in construction and business skills as well as in leadership, communication and employment readiness. The underlying goals of the program are to improve the quality of life for Tijuana residents by improving inadequate infrastructure, which increases the risk of infectious diseases; provide skilled laborers; and decrease crime and violence by providing alternatives through job opportunities.
The $800,000 award is funded by U.S. Agency for International Development in Mexico through Higher Education for Development. Colorado State University contributed $200,000 and Universidad Iberoamericana is contributing another $23,000, bringing the total funds for the project to more than $1 million.
“Youth at risk who live in Tijuana and neither work nor study are more likely to live in poverty and may be at greater risk for becoming involved in crime because, without an education or skills, they have difficulty in becoming productive members of society,” said Carla Lopez del Puerto, a Department of Construction Management professor. “Careers in the construction industry can open doors to these youth, giving them hope and confidence in a better life.”
CSU’s team is led by Lopez del Puerto; David Becerra, a social work professor; and Mostafa Khattab, head of the Department of Construction Management. Construction management and the School of Social Work are in the College of Applied Human Sciences. The construction industry is a significant contributor to the gross national product in Mexico and can provide high-quality jobs to trained individuals.
The project employs a train-the-trainer model by reaching local residents through classes at Universidad Iberoamericana in Tijuana. The project will educate four construction professionals to be community trainers during an intensive weeklong workshop during which they’ll learn how to teach unemployed people practical and green construction-oriented skills. The community trainers will teach 360 hours of curriculum over nine weeks, reaching 195 unemployed and uneducated residents over four years. CSU and its partners will jointly contribute to training, oversight and quality assurance, marketing and curriculum for the program.
In 2001, the U.S. Agency for International Development in Mexico announced the Training, Internships, Exchanges, and Scholarships program to bring the resources of higher education to bear on addressing bi-national development challenges. Higher Education for Development has managed a total of 79 higher education partnerships that reflect collaborations between the U.S. and Mexican higher education institutions, governments and the private sector. The goal of TIES is to improve the ability of higher education institutions to prepare the future workforce with relevant skills to support Mexico’s development goals by 2015. USAID funding of the program to date is about $30 million. For more information about HED, visit www.hedprogram.org.
USAID supports the mobilization of the expertise and resources of higher education institutions to address critical development challenges. For more information about how USAID has provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 50 years, visit www.usaid.gov.