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The Summer Careers Academy is off to a Great Start!

The Summer Careers Academy is off to a Great Start! 

The inaugural cohort is made up of 15 diverse students and nearly a dozen small, mid-size, and large employers from the public and private sectors.

Chapel Hill, NC: This week, the Summer Careers Academy (#SummerCareersAcademy) welcomed 15 students (called Pre-Apprentices) to Building Our Future” - the inaugural eight-week career training program focused on the skilled trades.  

“Our collective vision has quickly become a reality and local residents now have a fast-track to high paying careers in the skilled trades,” said Holly Fraccaro, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties; Managing Director of “Building Our Future;” and Steering Committee Member for the Summer Careers Academy. 

About the Inaugural Cohort

The inaugural cohort includes 15 Pre-Apprentices, 8 of whom are still in high school and 7 have graduated. The cohort is diverse in race/ethnicity with 4 identifying as Hispanic, Latino/a/x, or Spanish origin, 4 as Asian, 3 as Black or African American, 2 as White, and 2 who identify as other. The cohort includes 12 who identify as male, 2 as female, and 1 who identifies as non-binary/third gender. Of the 15 Pre-Apprentices, 12 are current or former students from Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and 3 are from Orange County Schools. All Pre-Apprentices report that they are interested in a career in the skilled trades. In the next year, a majority want to work part-time in the skilled trades while they continue their studies and 4 hope to work full-time in the skilled trades.

More than fifty employers have engaged with the Summer Careers Academy over the last year to help develop the model, and the following 11 employers have taken the additional step of joining the inaugural cohort, hiring a Pre-Apprentice, and agreeing to the $12 per hour Learning Wage: BOLD Construction, Brown Brothers Plumbing and Heating, Bryant-Durham Electric, BuildSense, CARROLL, Green Horizon One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Marcoplos Construction, Orange County Government, Piedmont Electric Cooperative, The Lundy Management Group, and the Town of Chapel Hill. These 11 employers are diverse in size and sector with small, mid-size, and large employers from the public and private sectors.

About "Building Our Future”

"Building Our Future” is a Registered Youth Apprenticeship Program (Pre-Apprenticeship) in the skilled trades and the students, who are young adults ages 16-24, are referred to as Pre-Apprentices. The Pre-Apprentices receive free in-classroom training and paid work experiences during the summer.

The program is using the industry-recognized and widely-adopted National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) core construction curriculum, which prepares students for construction careers, including occupations in carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry, and HVAC-R repair. The Pre-Apprentices who successfully complete the program earn academic credit, industry-recognized certificates (NCCER, OSHA-10, and CPR/First Aid), and prior learning credit recognized at the community colleges, and are prepared for full time employment or to enter and succeed in a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

The inaugural program is managed by the Home Builders of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties Foundation and is taking place from June 14, 2022 to August 5, 2022. The Kickoff and Orientation Event was on Thursday, June 2nd at the Sheraton Chapel Hill Hotel (review the presentation deck). The first day of in-classroom training was Tuesday, June 14th (at Cedar Ridge High School), the first day on job sites is Tuesday, June 21st, and graduation is Friday, August 5th.

“As a son of refugees, I am deeply familiar with how valuable yet rare a life changing opportunity like the Summer Careers Academy is,” said Tai Huynh, Acta Solutions Co-Founder and CEO, Chapel Hill Town Council Member, and Summer Careers Academy Steering Committee Member. “I’m thrilled to see the inaugural cohort in-action and ask the community to help us start recruiting the next cohort so more of our neighbors can build the life of their dreams!” 

About the Summer Careers Academy 

The Summer Careers Academy is an eight week summer career training program that connects residents, especially young adults (ages 16-24) who are underrepresented and underserved, with new skills and paid work experiences in compelling career pathways. The inaugural program, called “Building Our Future,” is underway in Orange County, NC with a focus on the skilled trades, and the intention is to expand the Summer Careers Academy model to other industries (e.g., health care and IT) and to other counties in subsequent years.

The Summer Careers Academy is governed by a Steering Committee that operates according to the principles of Collective Impact and is made up of educators, employers, elected and senior government officials, and community activists. Active Steering Committee members include Kathi Breweur of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Shannon Braxton of Orange County Schools, Maryah Smith-Overman of Durham Technical Community College, Holly Fraccaro of the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties, Katie Loovis of The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Tai Huynh of Acta Solutions and the Chapel Hill Town Council, Deon Temne of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, Tony McKnight of ApprenticeshipNC, Heather Kasey of the Summer Careers Academy, Patricia Harris of the Summer Careers Academy, and James (Jim) Porto, Ph.D., who is the former Mayor of Carrboro.

The Steering Committee is guided by a vision that all residents in our community have access to exciting, high paying careers and receive support along the way to achieve their dreams, and that our community has a dynamic talent pipeline that delivers value for our residents, employers, and economy. The Summer Careers Academy operates according to the following values:

  • We are committed to our shared vision and believe cross-sector collaboration is critical to our success.
  • We are committed to justice and equity, and believe establishing a level playing field and inclusive environment is a fundamental component of our programming.
  • We are committed to honesty and integrity, and believe that is reflected in our ethical operations, trustworthy fiscal management, and transparent annual reporting.
  • We are committed to evidence-informed decision making and believe quantitative and qualitative data are essential for our continuous improvement.
  • We are committed to quality and demonstrate this both in the way we work as an organization and the professional pride and work ethic we instill in the classroom among our participants.

Carolina Across 100 

The Summer Careers Academy is one of thirteen cross-sector collaboratives recently selected to participate in the "Our State, Our Work" program, which is a Carolina Across 100 (#CarolinaAcross100) two-year initiative coordinated by UNC-Chapel Hill and ncIMPACT to connect young adults to living wage employment opportunities. Being a part of this important initiative will give the Summer Careers Academy Steering Committee access to tremendous resources available through UNC-Chapel Hill and expert advice on performance measurement, strategic marketing and communication, capacity building, and long-term sustainability.  


The success of the Summer Careers Academy would not be possible without the support of the following:

In addition, the Orange County Board of Commissioners should be acknowledged for their tremendous forethought in funding the skilled trades study in 2019-2020 (press release), which built the necessary momentum to develop and establish the Summer Careers Academy. Also, Avery Pipkin should be acknowledged for leading the in-classroom instruction for the inaugural cohort and sharing his love of woodworking and craftsmanship with the students.

Lastly, there are leaders of other skilled trades programs and initiatives throughout the region who have shown a tremendous level of collaboration and have contributed to the success of the Summer Careers Academy. The Steering Committee would like to acknowledge: Durham Public Schools and the WayMakers Collaborative, Hope Renovations, Central Carolina Community College, and the Catawba Valley Community College Construction Career Academy, with particular recognition of Berman (Keith) Sipe, who served as a strategic advisor and consultant on developing the Summer Careers Academy model and launching the inaugural “Building Our Future” program. 


  • For those interested in learning more about the Summer Careers Academy, visit and follow the conversation with #SummerCareersAcademy.
  • For members of the media, contact Katie Loovis, Vice President for External Affairs, The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, 919-696-0781 (cell).
  • For employers interested in joining next year’s cohort, contact Heather Kasey, Summer Careers Academy Program Coordinator, at 919-357-2878 (cell).
  • For students interested in joining next year’s cohort, Patricia Harris, Summer Careers Academy Program Coordinator, at 919-545-4133 (cell).

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