Strength in Partnership.

The Home Builders Institute (HBI) is the National Association of Home Builders Workforce, Training, and Development arm. It is the single-largest provider of career-instruction preparing undeserved populations.

An innovative partnership between HBI and Eckerd Connects Project Bridge assists youth who are at risk of failing in major tasks necessary to assure a productive life. For those connected to the lives of juvenile-justice involved youth, meaningful and impactful work is what everyone strives for, with one main goal in mind; to reduce the likelihood of rearrest. Participation in the Project Bridge program successfully reduces the likelihood of recidivism.

Youth E. Reyes began Project Bridge services in November 2016 with the drive to better his life, but he had little to no direction on how to do so and how to set it in motion. While meeting with HBI’s Regional Career Services Coordinator, Mr. Neely, this young man began to tell his vocational instructor about all of the negative he had done and how he wanted to make it his mission to better his community as well as his life.

E. Reyes is a young father of two children who was just trying to find the right way to be a provider. With guidance from Mr. Neely, E. Reyes began to complete application after application. This youth certainly had the ambition to be successful. E. Reyes attended services everyday and did everything he was asked to do. He was also able to connect with a mentor who was able to provide this youth assistance. In December 2016, E. Reyes got the phone call he was waiting for. Not only was he offered a job at FedEx, he was also offered a position at Walmart. E. Reyes is now employed at FedEx full time!

HBI and Eckerd Connects Project Bridge provide the vocational, educational, and support services to these hard-to-reach teens by focusing on issues which are relevant to their lives – finding a job, earning money, and achieving financial independence.

The Project Bridge program helps young men and women restore vision by providing guidance and practical tools to break out of the destructive cycle they are in. As young people like E. Reyes learn real life business concepts and job skills, their self-confidence grows and they begin to see themselves anew and recognize opportunities for success. Because E. Reyes was given guidance, it helped him cope with his family and being a responsible father and allowed him to envision a brighter future. While he is proud of his financial independence and ability to help his family, now he sees that he could get a better job and chart a path for himself in the workforce.

“The visits to different workplaces and the meetings with business people opened my eyes and showed me that I could want more from my work,” said E. Reyes. Learning to interview successfully and build a social network, E. Reyes developed a support system and the confidence to look forward to becoming a successful part of his community instead of being a burden. Project Bridge sees a bright future for this young man.