Student Tradeskills: A Grant for Makers

Illustration by Burcu Ozdemir/The Guardsman. Instagram: @Ozdemrbrcu

By JohnTaylor Wildfeuer


While City College works to bring back hundreds of cut classes, it is being awarded the largest grant of five, $32,000, by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) to develop a Skilled Trades Program.


The grant was awarded as part of the NACCE’s second annual Pitch for the Trades competition in which City College’s submission was chosen out of eleven semifinalists nationally to receive funding along with four other community colleges. 


The winning pitch was presented by a team of faculty and led by Evans and Downtown Campus instructor Arcadia Máximo. Their proposed Entrepreneurship & Innovation for Skilled Trades Project aims to augment and grow MakerSPHERE, a digital and analog fabrication program opened to enrollment in Fall ‘19.


Máximo, a general contractor and City College instructor of eight years, wants to make it more accessible for students to “take classes to learn about 3D printing, laser cutting, vinyl cutting.”


The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at City College, a network of programs which includes MakerSPHERE, is a place where Máximo says students can learn not only technical skills, but administrative necessities such as,  “understanding taxes or licenses, being able to take risks, the responsibilities of being the owner of your own company, and time management.”


While managing her time as an instructor in the Construction and Fashion departments as well as running her general contracting business, Máximo Construction, she is also enrolled as a student in the Horticulture program at City College.


Recalling the award ceremony Máximo says, “We were up against some tough competition and at the last envelope I thought, ‘Oh, we didn’t win,’ but then they called City College.”


Last year’s recipients include a sustainable building project using shipping containers at Kaua’i Community College and a Cosmetology program at Community College Raleigh, North Carolina working with natural hair, a movement that has sought to encourage people of African descent to embrace the natural texture of their hair.


On the 2019 Pitch for the Trades scorecard colleges were given a one-to-ten rating in ten categories such as community impact and implementation strategy. 


Theresa MacLennan, who develops the rubrics, is a Project Manager for NACCE where she also manages application materials and organizes a panel of judges for Pitch for the Trade.


According to MacLennan, year’s rubric is essentially the same as last year’s, the grant’s pilot year, “We want to know how the funds are going to be used, anticipated timeline of the expenditures, what the economic impact will be, how many students will be served, and how many jobs will be created.” 


In addition to the fact that “They have a great team of people working with them,’ MacLennan was given the impression by City College that “they’re pretty ready to hit the ground running with this program.” She is told students could see the funds implemented in as little as, “six to twelve months”


MacLennan, with City College’s budget proposal in front of her, says it includes, “infrastructure tools and things that the students can use not only this year but going forward.”


Dr. Rebecca Corbin, President and CEO of NACCE extended congratulations stating, “NACCE applauds City College of San Francisco and all the teams who participated in the NACCE 2020 Pitch for the Trades competition for their creativity and leadership in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”


The projects pitched redefine traditional learning by making learning not only applicable but also accessible for women, people of color, veterans, immigrants, and other would-be entrepreneurs who can start their own business in a skilled trade through programming and support from their local community college.”


City College may be in an era of financial reconstruction and budgetary caution, but for students seeking trade skills and careers this sizable grant may make it an ideal time to break new ground and build a foundation, “whether it’s as a side gig,” says Máximo, ”or a full-blown startup.”

The Guardsman