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Training New Tradespeople -- Black and Latino Students Enter Specialized Fields

STONE AND STAGE: Above, Adrian Green, a former senior at James Madison High School in Brooklyn, learns lighting skills in a Roundabout Theatre workshop. 

If you’ve seen a Broadway or Off-Broadway show, you’ve supported good jobs. Theatrical productions are labor intensive, and even carpenters, lighting technicians, and makeup artists just starting in their fields make far more than minimum wage.

Although the number of theater jobs is growing, starting a career in such specialized fields often depends on apprenticeships and personal connections.

Consider masonry. Thousands of stone structures, including Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain, need regular maintenance, and jobs are opening as a generation of master masons retires. 
Through two grants, we are helping disadvantaged young New Yorkers learn several trades.

With $75,000 from The Trust, Roundabout Theatre Company is starting a training program in technical stagecraft. Young, ethnically diverse people from poor neighborhoods will learn carpentry, lighting and sound operation, as well as costume design and makeup for the stage. 

“We’ve seen tremendous interest in these jobs among high school students in our production workshop,” says Jennifer DiBella, the Roundabout’s director of education. This new program will include training and year-long paid jobs at major City theaters.

We’re also supporting job training at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Woodlawn Conservancy is using our $75,000 grant to teach students from a Bronx high school and another in Brooklyn to preserve and maintain gravestones and memorials. As they caulk and point, they prepare for future jobs by working with different stone types and honing their masonry skills. 

“We’ve seen great interest in these jobs among high school students.” 
—Jennifer DiBella, director of education, Roundabout Theatre

JOB CONNECTIONS: We just made more than $1 million in new grants to help New Yorkers get jobs. The 10 grants range from $100,000 to JobsFirstNYC (to find jobs for unemployed young people on Staten Island and in Brooklyn) to $125,000 to the Center for Employment Opportunities (to train former inmates for work in plumbing, carpentry, and forklift operation).

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