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Summer Careers Academy

The Summer Careers Academy (SCA) is an innovative, eight-week career training model 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 model is based on the successful employer-led Catawba Valley Community College Construction Careers Academy, which blends free in-classroom training and paid on-the-job work experience. Read the October 2021 introduction and March 2022 launch announcements.

Building Our Future

The inaugural program of the SCA, called “Building Our Future” (BOF), is focused on the skilled trades. BOF is a new “Registered Youth Apprenticeship Program” and the students, called “Pre-Apprentices,” receive free in-classroom learning and paid on-the-job work experience as well as complimentary equipment and critical support services (food, transportation, language, and career services). Pre-Apprentices who successfully complete the program earn academic credit, industry-recognized certificates (NCCER, OSHA-10, and CPR/First Aid), and are prepared for full time employment in construction occupations (carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry, and HVAC-R repair) or are college-ready and can continue to “earn and learn” through a “Registered Apprenticeship Program” (RAP). The Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties Foundation (HBA DOC Foundation) serves as the managing director of BOF and works collaboratively with the SCA Steering Committee.  Read the June 2022 announcement.

Who & How

What is unique about the SCA model and BOF program is the commitment to equity. The program is open to all young adults (ages 16-24), no experience is required, and the program is specifically designed to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged in our community, including refugees, low-income students, and students of color. The program provides critical support services for participants to overcome any and all barriers to success. Participants receive a competitive salary ($12/hour, “Learning Wage”), complimentary equipment and attire, and holistic support along the way (food, transportation, language, and career services). Participants who successfully complete the program are college and career-ready and receive a completion bonus taking their salary to the “Living Wage.” 

When & Where

The SCA model was introduced in 3Q2021 and the inaugural BOF program was launched in 1Q2022 with a focus on the skilled trades for residents in residents in Orange County, NC. The intention is to replicate the programming in other counties and expand the training to other in-demand industries (e.g., health care and Information technology) in the coming years.

Steering Committee

The SCA 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, and James (Jim) Porto, Ph.D., who is the former Mayor of Carrboro.

Research & Design

The design of the SCA model was informed with findings from the Skilled Construction Trades Study (read the press release), which was commissioned by the Orange County Board of Commissioners and funded by the Orange County Government in 2019, and conducted by The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro in 2020. The study surfaced four promising training program models, including the Catawba Valley Construction Career Academy, which is an employer-led, low-cost, high-performance model that became the blueprint for the new SCA.

Founding Funders & Fiscal Agents

Two founding investors made the SCA vision a reality. The NC Education and Innovation Workforce Commission provided significant state funds through a competitive grant process and The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust provided the private matching contribution. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools stewards the public funds and the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties Foundation is the trusted fiscal agent for the private funds and managing director of the BOF program.


The Steering Committee acknowledges several individuals and organizations that were involved in the development of the SCA, including but not limited to Durham Public Schools and the WayMakers CollaborativeHope RenovationsOrange County Board of Commissioners, Orange County Schools Board of Education, and the Regional Partnership Workforce Development Board.


The coalition was ignited in March of 2021 by Chapel Hill Town Council Member Tai Huynh. The original intent was to re-establish an apprenticeship program in the skilled trades with the Town of Chapel Hill and in doing so, better reach children of refugees and other underserved populations with new training opportunities for careers that provide a living wage. The working group expanded the vision to engage more employers and industries and developed the SCA concept. By Summer 2021, the coalition secured public and private funds to bring to life the vision for an innovative eight-week career training model called the SCA and a new Registered Youth Apprenticeship Program in the skilled trades, called BOF. The model was introduced in October 2021, the inaugural program was launched with an event in February 2022 and a public announcement in March 2022, and the inaugural program took place in Summer 2022 (see June 2022 announcement).


Bendezu, B. (2023, Feb 15). Summer Careers Academy to partner with UNC, other organizations to improve program. Daily Tar Heel.

Huynh, T (2022, Mar 21). On Air Today: Tai Huynh on the Summer Careers Academy. Interviewed by Brighton McConnell. 97.9 The Hill

Long, S. (2022, Mar 2). Summer Careers Academy to bring apprenticeship program to Orange County. Daily Tar Heel.

Dart, J. (2021, Dec 14). Workforce Revival in NC: Summer Careers Academy (Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County. NC Chamber.