The Career Technical Education Foundation Sonoma County has been approved for a $1 million grant from Tipping Point Community, a prominent Bay Area funder that fights poverty in the Bay Area, to support expansion of a successful local youth training program called the North Bay Construction Corps.

With the funds, the CTE foundation plans to work with North Coast Builders Exchange to develop and execute programs in Napa and Lake counties, as well as coordinate expansion of the Mendocino County Construction Corps program that began earlier this year, according to the foundation's announcement Tuesday. Additional interest and funding has been pledged to support expansion into Marin County, the group said.

The new money is part of the foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund, established to support the North Bay’s recovery and rebuilding efforts following the devastating wildfires last October that damaged thousands of homes and businesses.

North Bay Construction Corps is a five-month training program for high school seniors to introduce them to careers and jobs in construction in various trades. The two-year-old program currently includes two cohorts in Sonoma County comprised of 37 young men and women who are in their last semester of high school.

The training program includes classes that meet one night a week and one Saturday a month. Classes are taught exclusively by local construction industry representatives, to give students a sampling of what it’s like to work in a variety of trades and to expose them to multiple employers.

Students learn the jobsite fundamentals, such as tool handling, safety, electrical, plumbing, carpentry and solar. They also earn these certifications: Forklift and Scissor Lift Operation, OSHA 10, and CPR/First Aid. That gives the students a significant advantage upon completion as they seek entry level work or further training such as an apprenticeship, according to the foundation.

The program culminates in a two-week boot camp during the summer that allows students to practice their skills and experience first-hand the day-to-day work life in the industry while earning a stipend. Along with trade-based technical skills, students learn soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, leadership, and working on deadlines, which are all applied throughout the program.

In addition to funding the multicounty expansion of the program, the Tipping Point Emergency Relief Fund donation also provides funding to meet a local grant challenge to expand the program within Sonoma County. Local funders, Tony Crabb & Barbara Grasseschi, Morgan Family Foundation, Syar Foundation, and Bancroft Foundation have collectively donated $200,000 to be offered as a challenge match to the public.

An additional $200,000 is needed to support the Sonoma County program through 2020. Fundraising is already underway, with commitments from the Engineering Contractors Association, BIA Bay Area, Charlie Palmer’s Pigs & Pinot Event, Windsor Education Foundation and North Coast Builders Exchange. The resulting support would potentially fund a total of eight cohorts, including four in Sonoma County, and serving up to 240 high school seniors.