Home Builders Institute


Program Summary: Project CRAFT (Community, Restitution, and Apprenticeship-Focused Training) is designed to improve educational levels, teach vocational skills and reduce recidivism among adjudicated youth, while addressing the home building industry’s need for entry level workers. The program began in 1994 when the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration awarded a Youth Offender demonstration grant to Home Builders Institute (HBI), the workforce development arm of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

The program incorporates the apprenticeship concept of hands-on training and academic instruction. Under the supervision of instructors, students learn residential construction skills while completing community service construction projects. It utilizes the industry validated Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT), numeracy, literacy and employability skills curricula. Nearly 60% of participants have a disability, with special education planning a key component of the program.

Since 1994, Project CRAFT has served more than 2,000 high-risk youth at 15 sites in ten states (Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas). Project CRAFT currently operates at nine sites in four states, including Florida, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Mississippi. Each year it serves about 400 youth.

Program Structure/Design: Project CRAFT is a construction industry-sponsored program that integrates youth development strategies into hands-on vocational training, employability skills development, job placement assistance, and follow-up. The initiative is an “open entry/skilled exit” program, with youth spending an average of 840 hours in training over a six-month period. Approximately 25 percent of the time is spent in classroom-related instruction and 75 percent in a community service/work-based learning environment that combines classroom learning with work site experience. Training slots are filled as they are vacated by graduating students. Local HBI member companies help identify job opportunities that provide additional training and/or career advancement opportunities.

States of Operation: DC, FL, TN, NJ, MS

Youth Targeted:

• Out of school youth
• Youth with disabilities
• Youth offenders
• Rural youth
• Urban youth
• Minority youth

Profile Year:


School-Based Preparatory Experiences:
CRAFT students generally work toward a GED or high school diploma while completing HBI’s Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT). The PACT was developed by HBI in partnership with the Essex Community College. It is accepted and validated by the National Association of Home Builders. The pre-apprenticeship training includes classroom instruction that connects traditional curricula with skills relevant to the workplace by using concepts from various ongoing or upcoming projects. Mathematical concepts such as measurement, area, volume, and fractions are commonly used in material estimation exercises used in project planning.
All CRAFT graduates are issued a certificate indicating their completion of the PACT curriculum in their respective trade. This certificate is often presented to potential employers during the application and interview process. Members of NAHB help review and revise PACT to make sure it remains relevant to the construction industry and specific trades.

Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences:
HBI makes extensive use of skills assessments as part of its PACT curriculum. Each CRAFT student is rated on three levels of mastery on the trade-specific list of competencies. All CRAFT graduates are issued a certificate indicating their completion of the PACT curriculum in their respective trade. This certificate is often presented to potential employers during the application and interview process.
Under the supervision of industry-experienced instructors, students learn residential construction skills while completing community service construction projects. In the PACT curriculum, basic training includes work in principles of construction, carpentry, house wiring and electricity, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, and facilities maintenance. Each of these skill areas have minimum requirements in terms of time spent performing the activity and the quality of work. Work duties may include acting as project lead, facilitating safety programs, maintaining tools, planning projects, budgets, and workflow.

Youth Development and Leadership:
Project CRAFT students are treated as adult, professional tradespeople in-training. They have many opportunities for program input, including a student survey. The specific format of the youth involvement varies from site to site, but includes twice-monthly individual meetings with project staff along with group discussions during one segment of a weekly class.In Orlando, FL, student suggestions led to a policy that allows the participants to earn vacation time for perfect attendance. At the Avon Park, FL, site, students developed a policy that allows them to do trade-related work projects during their free time on weekends, essentially earning extra credit.
In the projects, instructors often designate an experienced student as the foreman for a job or a one week period. Informal peer mentoring is encouraged. Other students are responsible for ensuring proper safety practices or tool care. Students are also actively involved in the planning or designing process of projects. Student design change, material estimation, and workflow suggestion have been implemented instead of the method proposed by CRAFT staff or outside contractors.

Connecting Activities:
Project CRAFT, in cooperation with the local school system, develops individual development plans for youth with identified disabilities that do not have current plans. For example, at the community-based site in Orlando, FL, 50 percent of CRAFT students were diagnosed with some type of cognitive, emotional, or learning disability. The CRAFT instructors and the site teacher, supplied by the county public schools, adapted the classroom activities to the needs of the individual students. Changes included oral testing instead of written testing, using computer-based subject matter, and pairing students with complementary skill sets. At the three CRAFT residential sites (one in Nashville, two in Pembroke Pines), responsibility for creating the plans rests with the facility’s education department. CRAFT staff monitors each student’s progress and communicates with facility staff to ensure a coordinated effort.
Project CRAFT encourages and supports participants to attend parenting classes, alternative Workforce Investment Act programs, and programs in schools that can support the youth. Some students receive Social Security or/and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The project helps them maintain their benefits appropriately. Youth who need additional services for substance abuse, mental health, or other health needs are connected to community based organizations like Goodwill or county or state probation and juvenile justice programs.Project CRAFT follows youth for six months (or sometimes longer) after the students leave the program.


Staff Development:
HBI recognizes the value of ongoing training of its instructional, employment, and administrative staff. Staff development allows individuals to focus on the project’s main mission of developing academic and vocational skills leading to job placement. The program has standardized training and ongoing support to all staff including how to concretely deal with the needs of individuals with disabilities. Staff is also involved in school district trainings and conferences. Training protocols are required in all contracts with outside vendors. Staff members are encouraged to make use of HBI’s tuition reimbursement benefit to attend professional conferences and/or post-secondary education.In Florida, HBI’s contract with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) requires all staff to have 120 hours of training over the course of their first full year of employment, and 40 hours of continued training every subsequent year. HBI has demonstrated its commitment to continuous improvement by adding a DJJ-certified staff trainer to its staff in Florida. By having a DJJ-certified trainer on the CRAFT staff, HBI has been able to tailor training sessions to their specific needs, and gained added control over the scheduling and subject matter of staff training. This added flexibility allows senior CRAFT staff to assess training needs, and respond quickly rather than relying on outside resources.
Some of the sessions recently offered to CRAFT staff include instructional strategies for project participants, the importance of positive reinforcement, behavioral management strategies, accommodations as required by IDEA, and the creation and implementation of transition plans.

Project CRAFT regularly makes efforts to increase the number of collaborative partners. Besides juvenile justice agencies and school districts, the project has formal relationships with Job Corps and Habitat for Humanity. These collaboratives allow a great deal of freedom to use services and financial resources with flexibly and creativity. There is also a great deal of community service performed by the project participants that increases the visibility and good will within the community.
For instance, in Nashville, TN, Project CRAFT has assisted in the construction of over 15 homes through Habitat for Humanity; completed the total remodeling/rehabilitation of the Fallen Angels Transitional Living Facility in North Nashville; repaired and remodeled kitchens and bathrooms for clients of the Metro Action Committee; helped in the new construction of the women’s vocational training building for the Davidson County Drug Court; and completed a substantial amount of the work on a local church remodeling project.
At its three community-based sites, CRAFT works with three different school boards to integrate related academics into PACT, enabling students to earn high school credits.

Quantitative Data for 7 Active Project SitesJuly 1, 2004 — June 30, 2005
Project Site
Jackson Monroe Township Nashville Avon Park Youth Academy Pembroke Pines Orland Tampa
Program Start
2004 2002 2003 1997 2002 1995 2001
Students Trained
31 20 64 160 43 40 40 398
Students with Disabilities
16% 50% 25% 43.7% 87.5% 85% 100% 58.17%
Placement Rate
100 33% 84% 91% 91% 95% 91% 88%
Average Starting Hourly Wage
8.00 9.58 8.39 8.21 8.00 8.19 7.28 8.15
Community Volunteer Hours
1,822 10,381 10,640 3,408 20,708 3,111 5,056 55,216


Third-Party Documentation:
Project CRAFT received the 2002 PEPNet (Promising and Effective Practices) Award from the US Department of Labor and the National Youth Employment Coalition.
This program has been featured as a promising intervention for juvenile offenders in the following journals:
• Mental Health Treatment for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: A Compendium of Promising Practices, National Mental Health Association, 2004
• Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in its Sept. 2003 publication, Juvenile Justice Bulletin and its Employment and Training for Court-Involved Youth report, Nov. 2000.
• Florida Juvenile Justice Accountability Board, in A Study of Vocational Programming in Juvenile Justice Commitment Facilities, (JJAB Doc. 00-002-JJAB).

Organization Name: Home Builders Institute
Program Name: Project CRAFT
Street Address: 1201 15th Street NW, Sixth Floor
City: Washington
State: DC

Contact Person: John Hattery
Contact E-mail: hatteryj@hbi.org