Building Skills Partnership

Martin Velazquez ‘The Coliseum Professor’ Takes his Computer Skills to New Heights – Read his story:

 

Martin Velazquez is a part-time janitor at the Oakland Coliseum in the Bay Area. He is known by his coworkers and colleagues as the ‘Coliseum Professor’ due to his enthusiasm for learning and teaching technology. In 2010, Martin became a student in BSP’s Computer Literacy class in Oakland. After showing remarkable improvement and dedication as a student, then as a volunteer for 8 years, Martin was hired as BSP’s Computer Literacy instructor. Now, Martin helps his fellow janitors and local community members navigate our increasingly high tech world.

Before he was a BSP instructor, Martin’s story began in Mexico, where he lived with his wife and two sons and worked at a bank. After he was laid off when the bank declared bankruptcy, Martin struggled to find work opportunities. He decided to immigrate to the United States in search of work to support his family in Mexico.

Martin eventually settled in San Francisco and got a job as a janitor at the Oakland Coliseum, but soon after recognized the difficulties of being physically separated from his family. In order to keep up to date with his technological skills, Martin explored new ways to communicate with his wife and son in Mexico. This eventually led him to BSP’s Oakland computer lab. With the support of Comcast and Unidos US, BSP was able to purchase 24 computers to bridge the digital divide and improve communication abilities for immigrant janitors like Martin. BSP’s Computer Literacy class covers basic computer skills such as typing skills, internet navigation, Microsoft Word, Excel, and communication tools such as Skype, Facebook messenger and email.

Martin excelled in the class and now communicates daily with his two sons, both of whom are pursuing their college degree in Mexico. Martin believes technology empowers people and wants to spread his knowledge to ensure his coworkers are not left behind in our ever changing high tech economy. After participating in the Computer Literacy class, he would often hold open hours after work to offer extra support to his coworkers; walking them through computer basics and introducing them to online educational opportunities.

For Martin, the most rewarding part of being digitally literate is communicating with his family. He believes being able to use a computer is equally as important as being able to read and write. Martin dreams of earning his teaching credentials so he can continue to help his community learn and grow.

BSP is grateful for the support of Comcast and Unidos US to promote technology as a tool to reach, impact, and bridge the digital divide in our communities. 

 

‘Addressing the Economic Instability and Divide of Silicon Valley’s Invisible Workforce’ – Announcing Press Release

Download the PDF version here

 

 

 

For Immediate Release

August 11, 2017

Press Contact: Luis Sandoval (213) 284-3814 luis@buildingskills.org

 

Addressing the Economic Instability and Divide of Silicon Valley’s Invisible Workforce

Building Skills Partnership Receives $250,000 Grant from The Sobrato Family Foundation to Increase Financial Capability Programming to Immigrant Communities

 

Santa Clara, CA | August 11, 2017 – The Sobrato Family Foundation, a real-estate and development corporation with a large philanthropic footprint, has partnered with Building Skills Partnership (BSP) to address the economic instability and divide of immigrant janitors and their families in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Recognizing BSP as an essential partner in improving the stability of low-income immigrant families in the region, The Sobrato Family Foundation has also chosen BSP to participate in a 18-month hands-on organizational evaluation program through The Sobrato Impact Lab. This includes a combination of individualized coaching and peer-to-peer learning to accelerate organizational efforts to evaluate the impact of its work.   

 

Through a grant from the Sobrato Foundation totalling $250,000, BSP will strengthen and expand its current Financial Education services in Silicon Valley. BSP’s primary demographic include immigrant janitors, many of whom struggle to live on a $27,000 yearly salary and experience income volatility as a result. Through this initiative, BSP will bring comprehensive financial education, behavior changing tools, case management and coaching services to Silicon Valley’s working poor. Immigrant communities in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties will benefit from the curriculum and programming tailored to their financial needs.

 

“Immigrant janitors are an invisible workforce, cleaning the large buildings of Silicon Valley’s tech industry. We are proud to join in The Sobrato Family Foundation’s mission to make the region a place of opportunity for all those who call it home,” said Aida Cardenas, Executive Director of BSP. “We are grateful for the support of The Sobrato Family Foundation that will help us improve the long-term financial stability of immigrant workers and their families in this region.”

 

As part of its ongoing commitment to increase the capacity and impact of its non-profit partners, The Sobrato Family Foundation has chosen BSP to participate in its Impact Lab Initiative. Through the Impact Lab, BSP will participate in 18 months of hands-on evaluation and capacity building activities.

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About Building Skills Partnership

The Building Skills Partnership is a 510(c)3 non-profit collaboration between SEIU-United Service Workers West, janitorial employers, building owners, and community leaders. BSP’s mission is to improve the quality of life for low-wage, property service workers and their families by increasing their skills, access to education, and opportunities for career and community advancement and participation. (www.buildingskills.org)

 

About The Sobrato Family Foundation

 

The Sobrato Family Foundation seeks to empower low‐income, underserved, and at-risk populations that are experiencing language, economic, and other barriers to opportunity. The Foundation makes strategic investments in effective organizations striving to create lasting change in communities and help people meet their basic needs.

(http://www.sobrato.com)

Just Released! BSP Receives $40,000 Grant from OC Opportunity Initiative; Empowers Immigrants and Strengthens Economy

 

 

 

 

For Immediate Release

August 7, 2017

Press Contact: Luis Sandoval (213) 284-3814 luis@buildingskills.org

 

Building Skills Partnership Receives $40,000 Grant from OC Opportunity Initiative; Empowers Immigrants and Strengthens Economy

 

Orange County, CA | August 7, 2017 – In response to a growing need within the immigrant community, the Orange County Opportunity Initiative awarded a $40,000 grant to Building Skills Partnership (BSP)  to provide naturalization outreach and education to immigrant workers in Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Orange, Fullerton, and Anaheim.

BSP is one of 18 nonprofits in Orange County to receive an OC Opportunity Initiative 2017 grant. The initiative recognizes immigrants as essential to the county’s economic growth and development. The grants demonstrate a region-wide focus to invest in programs that strengthen participation and facilitate pathways to citizenship. Through this grant, BSP will provide outreach and education to help immigrant workers and their families become naturalized U.S. citizens.

“We are grateful for the support of the OC Opportunity Initiative and their commitment to help immigrant workers reach their American Dream,” said Aida Cardenas, Executive Director of BSP. “We look forward to continuing to expand opportunities for immigrant workers by strengthening our services and collaborations in this region.”

Researchers have found that naturalized citizens earn between 8 and 11 percent more than similarly situated immigrants who are not citizens. According to American Community Survey data, nearly 1 million immigrants call Orange County home. Comprising one third of the population, immigrants’ skills, talents, and contributions are indispensable assets to the county’s businesses, institutions, and economy. Through this grant, BSP will expand opportunities for immigrant workers to fully participate as naturalized citizens who will continue to bring vibrancy and economic prosperity to Orange County.

 

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About Building Skills Partnership

The Building Skills Partnership is a 510(c)3 non-profit collaboration between SEIU-United Service Workers West, janitorial employers, building owners, and community leaders. BSP’s mission is to improve the quality of life for low-wage, property service workers and their families by increasing their skills, access to education, and opportunities for career and community advancement and participation. (www.buildingskills.org)

 

About the  OC Opportunity Initiative

The Orange County Opportunity Initiative is a collaboration of regional funders dedicated to improving the lives of immigrants in Orange County that operates within the Orange County Community Foundation. The mission of the OC Opportunity Initiative is to direct resources to improve the lives of local immigrants and help them access all available legal opportunities to normalize their status.

(www.oc-cf.org).

BSP Awarded 2017 Equity Grant from the San Francisco Foundation

BSP is proud to partner with the San Francisco Foundation to create a more equitable Bay Area. As a recipient of this year’s Equity Grants, BSP will advance immigrant workers in Alameda County into better job and career opportunities.

BSP Receives Grant from the OC Opportunity Initiative for Citizenship Outreach

BSP has just been awarded a grant from the OC Opportunity Initiative. This $40,000 grant will continue to support and expand our education, outreach, and legal services to vulnerable populations in Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Orange, Fullerton, and Anaheim Counties. We are proud to work with the OC Opportunity Initiative and the Orange County Community Foundation on this important initiative.

 

 

Announcing New Press Release: BSP Receives $45,000 Grant from LADWP to Promote Energy and Water Conservation in Immigrant Communities

 

 

 

 

For Immediate Release
August 1, 2017
Press Contact : Luis Sandoval (213) 284-3814 luis@buildingskills.org

Building Skills Partnership Receives $45,000 Grant from LADWP to Promote Energy and Water
Conservation in Immigrant Communities

LOS ANGELES, CA | August 1, 2017 – Building Skills Partnership (BSP) has received a $45,000 Los
Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Community Partnership Grant to train janitors in Los
Angeles County to apply ‘green cleaning’ and energy conservation practices in their workplaces and
homes.

The community partnership grants are one part of a comprehensive package of energy efficiency and
water conservation programs offered by LADWP. These grants will help meet the Department’s goal of
reducing energy consumption among customers by up to 15% by 2020 and improving water conservation
by customers. BSP is among 20 Los Angeles-based organizations to receive an LADWP community
partnership grant. The partnership between LADWP and BSP represents a cross-sector commitment to
engage Los Angeles residents, specifically immigrant communities, to take an active role in reducing their
carbon footprint at home while advancing the department’s city wide sustainability goals.

“Through the Green Janitor Education Program (GJEP), janitors are given a seat at the sustainability table
by taking an active role in reducing the energy consumption of a building,” said Aida Cardenas,
Executive Director of BSP. “The Community Partnership Grant gives us the opportunity to not only build
on what we have accomplished in the field of sustainable building practices, but improve the lives of
janitors by making them agents of change in their households.”

This grant will help BSP scale the existing GJEP to include both the workplace and the homes of janitors.
These janitors have demonstrated an increased interest and motivation to be advocates for sustainability
by modifying their behavior. Small changes in their daily lives such as turning off the lights and water
faucets can improve conservation goals and reduce their utility bills. The grant will support a series of
workshops that will help janitors develop expertise on sustainability topics while contributing to their
local economic development.

The LADWP joins a unique cohort of organizations and cross-sector partnerships, including the U.S
Green Building Council, SEIU-USWW, Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los
Angeles, janitorial employers, and responsible businesses, who are committed to creating sustainable
workplaces and communities. Under the Green Janitor Education Program, janitors participate in a 30
hour certification training program in practices including energy efficiency, recycling, waste
management, and water conservation. For more on the GJEP, visit the page on BSP’s website:
http://www.buildingskills.org/programs/greenjanitor or email greenjanitors@usgbc-la.org . For a list of
partnering janitorial companies, see this link:
http://www.buildingskills.org/our-partners-and-funders/employers/ .

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About Building Skills Partnership
The Building Skills Partnership is a 510(c)3 non-profit collaboration between SEIU-United Service
Workers West, janitorial employers, building owners, and community leaders. BSP’s mission is to
improve the quality of life for low-wage, property service workers and their families by increasing their
skills, access to education, and opportunities for career and community advancement and participation.
( www.buildingskills.org )

ESL Courses Help Janitorial Workers Succeed; BSP Classes at Google Highlighted in CleanLink

Through a collaboration with Google and Brilliant General Maintenance (BGM), BSP provides English as a Second Language classes to improve the English proficiency of immigrant janitors. Recently, BSP’s ESL classes at Google were featured in a newsletter for sanitary supply distributors, building service contractors and in-house cleaning professionals. Below is an excerpt from the article:

“Daniel Montes Jr., Brilliant’s CEO, says one of his company’s goals with the English classes is to assist his staff in moving on to bigger and better things. “While many do stay on with our business and take supervisory positions, others use the training to start their own business or move on to higher paying jobs.”

BSP is proud to bridging cultures at the workplace through English Language training with the support of Brilliant General Maintenance and Google. Read the article on how strategic partnerships are giving janitorial workers the tools to succeed here: http://bit.ly/2u9EcW1.

BSP Awarded Grant from UnidosUS for Health and Wellness

BSP recently received a grant titled Comprando Rico y Sano (Buying Healthy and Flavorful Food) from UnidosUS that will instill healthy shopping and eating habits among Latinos through a variety of activities, including grocery store tours and cooking demonstrations in Orange County and Los Angeles. The grant will help expand health and wellness activities to workers and their children and implement cost-saving strategies that prove that healthy foods are affordable and accessible to all. We look forward to supporting the health and wellness of the Latino Community in Los Angeles and Orange County this year!

BSP’s ‘Green Jobs, Good Jobs’ Initiative Highlighted in Westside Today

BSP’s Green Jobs, Good Jobs initiative was recently recognized by Westside L.A. Today. The initiative will train immigrant workers, specifically janitors, in ‘green cleaning’ and energy conservation practices and elevate labor-management partnerships to meet the needs of a rapidly changing green industry. Executive Director, Aida Cardenas highlighted the initiative as “a testament to the commitment of employers and their clients who see the value janitors bring to sustainability efforts and to the janitors themselves, who are motivated to engage with their work.”

For the official Green Jobs, Good Jobs press release, click here.

Read the Westside Today article here.

Impact of the Green Janitor Education Program – A Study by SeedLA

Recently, BSP partnered with SeedLA, a nonprofit that provides pro-bono consulting to environmental and public health organizations. SeedLA undertook a research project for BSP’s Green Janitor Education Program (GJEP) to quantify the environmental, social, and economic impact of the GJEP to date and to strategize ways to expand the program to new buildings. Overall, SeedLA asserted the GJEP as “the easiest and least expensive green program for buildings to implement” (13). Using the report, BSP plans to continue expanding the GJEP statewide and elevate collaborative sustainability efforts to improve businesses and communities. To view the full report, visit our GJEP page. 

See below for a highlight page of the report or click here to download the PDF.