Greening the GAP program with USGBC Minnesota
USGBC Minnesota has partnered with the GAP program to help students learn more about the green building trade and ideas.
USGBC Minnesota’s recent work with Guadalupe Alternative Programs (GAP) is leading to a long-lasting relationship. GAP began in 1967 as an option for those who had dropped out of high school, helping them earn their high school diplomas in an alternative setting.
GAP has grown to include many services for students and for families in transition, mental health support, bilingual programming, industry-recognized certifications, mentoring and post-secondary support. As a member of the YouthBuild/Americorps national program, GAP has 125 students, most of whom are recent immigrants or refugees seeking language skills, education and job training.
The program offers certificates in health careers, information technology and building trades. The building trades programming offers 2+ hours of construction training each day, and USGBC Minnesota has paired with GAP to help introduce green concepts to the program.
This past fall, USGBC Minnesota helped green the landscaping of a new home the students built, thanks to landscaping expertise from Sam Geer of Urban Ecosystems. Back in the classroom, we introduced the students to basic green vocabulary and concepts: waste reduction, alternative energy and water conservation.
The objective was to introduce the students to terms they may have never heard or practices they’ve never used. English is a second language to all the students, but the language challenge did not hold us back. Students were quick to take to the information: when asked at the beginning of class what "sustainability" means to them, the students needed help with the definition. By the end of the discussion, when asked again, one student said, "Renew"—a great connection for the student to have made, sorting through a lot of new vocabulary and concepts.
Watch for more projects with GAP, including plans to help the students green their every day at school and to support green building practices in a future renovation project.