Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.
Teach a woman the construction trade and she too will eat for a lifetime. Latanza Freeman was schooled in construction and she’s got a career for a lifetime thanks to her hard work and the opportunities provided to her by the Minneapolis Urban League.
Just over a year ago, Latanza was without work and seeking a meaningful career, so she enrolled in the Minneapolis Urban League’s BIG STEP program. This workforce development program focuses on equipping underemployed and unemployed job seekers with skills and competencies required for the construction trades industry, with a specific focus on highway heavy job opportunities.
BIG STEP is a collaborative effort between the Minneapolis Urban League and the Minnesota Department of Transportation. And unique to BIG STEP, the program is facilitated by union trainers and upon completion of the three-week course, participants are issued a union card, which is huge in the construction trade. (Scroll down to read more..)
“That union card enables our course participants to immediately go out and get hired on union projects,” said Hilary Wright, contract administrator/workforce intersection coordinator.
That’s just what Latanza did upon completing BIG STEP. Latanza just celebrated her first year of employment at Ames Construction, working as a flagger. Latanza has worked on the Stillwater Bridge project and is currently protecting her fellow crew as a highway flagger working on the I-35E project.
“Before I got to the Minneapolis Urban League I couldn’t find a job,” said Latanza “The jobs I wanted weren’t available to me. (But) as soon as I got out of the (BIG STEP) program, they found me a job right away.”
Since becoming a union trade member, working on important transportation projects, Latanza has continued her involvement with the Minneapolis Urban League by speaking to new BIG STEP classes and offering her insights as a former participant and current union certified laborer.
“I want them (those at the Minneapolis Urban League) to get more grants so they can enhance the program further and offer additional training,” said Latanza. “I think they are doing a wonderful job at the Minneapolis Urban League.”
Just as Latanza is grateful for the Minneapolis Urban League, Wright is thrilled to have participants such as Latanza in one of its many Workforce Solutions programs.
“She (Latanza) has a great attitude and recently gave the current (BIG STEP) class great advice on always being nice and never saying no or making excuses while on the job site,” said Wright. “Anytime there’s a call for participation, she’s there. She’s really here to make the program better and wants to see other participants succeed the same way she has.”
To learn more about BIG STEP or other Workforce Solutions programs offered through the Minneapolis Urban League, Call Hilary Wright at (612) 302-3129 or visit the Minneapolis Urban League online at www.mul.org.