TEXO Foundation Connecting Students To The Construction Industry

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JULIE DONOVAN 
FOUNDATION MANAGER











Educating, recruiting, training, and retaining the next generation of construction professionals is the mission of the TEXO Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, and a responsibility which the board takes seriously. The foundation’s Board of Directors feels the obligation to empower the best and brightest students to pursue a career in the construction industry and to ensure they are equipped with the skills they need. Through programs, events, and scholarships the foundation is creating connections and advancing knowledge to establish a local talent pipeline. This is a lofty goal, especially with the growing need of qualified construction team members in the North Texas area. The focus of the Foundation Board is improving educational opportunities for students, thus creating better career options for them, and providing a highly trained workforce for our industry.

The Foundation Board oversees the goals and finances of the foundation as well as the three committees, which are striving to make connections and therefore meet the needs of the employers. The board members who represent contractors, skilled trades, and industry partners, serve as the guiding force to ensure vision and success as they build relationships. As how we work evolves, the board takes time to ensure the needs of the students and educators are being met as they prepare them for today’s work setting. Awarding robust scholarships is one of the most powerful steps the board takes in encouraging students to connect with TEXO and the world of construction. The College Committee carries out the tradition of bestowing gifts toward college tuition as a commitment to support young men and women. Our scholarship awards are creating a legacy of empowerment for the students. This year $32,000 in scholarships were awarded to 12 outstanding students representing 5 different universities. The students applied for the honor in the fall, underwent an interview process, and were given the awards in the spring. Scholarship recipient Tyler Emo expressed that the scholarships would allow him to spend more time focused on his education. In addition, Tyler shared, “The generosity of the TEXO Foundation has inspired me to continue to help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I am able to help students accomplish their goals just as you have helped me.”

Children today are coping with social isolation, home learning, and the stress of the unknown. Adding to those pressures, most students in North Texas must choose a high school path when they are in the 8th grade. Now the need to spark interest in construction as a profession begins as early elementary school so we can capture their attention before they must make those tough decisions. The Foundation has developed a strong partnership with Cadence McShane and Prestwick Academy in Little Elm ISD as the students met quarterly on the construction site of their future school, giving the students a close-up view of the building process. The Cadence McShane team was able to demonstrate basic construction concepts and encourage an interest in the world of buildings. Curriculum-To-Go boxes were used several times by Cadence McShane employees as they enthusiastically demonstrated the wide variety of construction career positions available to the middle school students. These boxes were developed by the University of Oklahoma through a TEXO Foundation grant and are available for TEXO members to check out for use in area classrooms.

career technology education

With Career Technology Education programs expanding in area school districts, the need for connections with high schools has increased significantly. The High School Committee, under leadership by Jessica Adame of McCarthy Building Companies, is doing its best to reach out to students and educators to promote the industry. Members spend time on over 15 campuses relating with the young adults about what life in the business looks like and how exactly their days unfold. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, industry professionals were on campuses working alongside the students demonstrating safety with harness training and encouraging students to develop their skills on the building of tiny homes. There is also a focus on soft skills that the students will need during interviews and as employees in the future. Many of the meetings this spring turned virtual with members presenting to several students in different classes at the same time. The newly renamed Constructing Student Success is the educator’s professional development workshop which is a planned virtual conference in late July being arranged by Stephanie Long of Katerra. The event will partner with Apple, Procore, NCCER, and others to showcase the latest resources teachers may access. Things came full circle when we were able to use TEXO Foundation grant funded projects with the students this year. The Career Comparison tool, which the University of Oklahoma created with TEXO Foundation funds, was an engaging resource for exploring career options for the students during virtual lessons.

Sponsoring the ASC Region V Student Competition is the biggest task for the College Committee, led by Logan Harper of TDIndustries. Logan and his 11 committee members encouraged participation in the event through their affiliations with the universities and students. The students were given an opportunity to compete in team and individual categories, build relationships, network with future employers, and get a taste of real-world challenges. Many of the students in the competition apply to receive one of the TEXO Foundation scholarships which are awarded the night of the event at the Awards Dinner. The College Committee is also responsible for sharing the latest trends in the industry with university professors at the Building Knowledge Conference held in the fall. This year the conference will be a virtual experience for the first time which will allow more people to become a part of this exciting event. The college team is also focused on developing stronger ties with the area universities and has created new positions with responsibilities of forging those bonds. Adding a Student Chapter Champion will help establish connections with area Student Chapters and increase the knowledge of construction and area employers. The team visited a few schools to interact with the students and answer questions about life and the economic outlook of construction.

With the help of YCC and the encouragement of YCC/Foundation Liaison Brent Guice, the Student Competition, college visits, and the completion of the Tailgate Tiny Home project were successfully accomplished. Communication and teamwork between TEXO members have improved with this role, and more young professionals are finding their place and taking on the responsibility of encouraging the new generation of employees. With our energetic YCC volunteers, we are training the future workforce and encouraging them to work in the DFW metroplex in a safe environment. These YCC members are given a chance to grow their leadership skills as they are investing in the future of the industry.

The long-awaited start of the TEXO Foundation Community Committee has finally come with industry professionals pulling together to give shape and definition to what the word community means. With Russell Jumper of Gray Reed chairing the committee, they plan to meet every other month in 2020 with additional meetings as needed in 2021 to fill the need of the area. This committee will be writing their roles and expectations as they meet which will influence the direction in which they will proceed. At the first meeting the group created an impressive list of over ten diverse ways they could build community partnerships. There are plenty of approaches they could take to meet the expectation of the community, and it is an exciting time to be involved in this developing group.

The TEXO Foundation empowers students from elementary school through high school and even post-secondary to understand all the career opportunities available so they may make the best decision for their future. To meet the economic growth of the industry, there is a need to educate students, teachers, parents, and the community about the available options open in the construction business. The Foundation focuses on preparing students to enter the workforce with the skills they need and providing businesses with outstanding and prepared employees. If you are interested in learning more about the Foundation, donating to it or giving your time to become a part of one of the committees, please contact foundation@texoassociation.org.

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