Pre-Apprenticeship Graduations for New York State

Jan 18, 2024

On December 13, 2023, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) celebrated two pre-apprenticeship graduations in both Buffalo and New York City. ​​The classes are pathways to high-paying union careers in construction free of cost to justice-impacted individuals.

Buffalo Graduation: "The Fabulous Five"

In collaboration with the Buffalo & Niagara County Building Construction and Trades Council, CEO Buffalo celebrated the graduation of five individuals who completed the 8-week pre-apprenticeship program with the Bricklayers Local 3. Dubbed “The Fabulous Five” by Site Director Cerise Sutton, the graduates embraced the spirit of Sankofa, a Ghanaian principle meaning "reach back to move forward." The kente stole is a symbol of achievement and overcoming hardship. It pays homage to the ancestors' sacrifices, reunites African Americans with Africa, and asserts their hope and confidence in the future. Adorned in Kente Graduation Stoles, they received their own custom set of tools to jumpstart their trade and certificates presented by Senator Timothy Kennedy.

Buffalo Site Director Cerise Sutton expressed the significance of the partnership, stating, "Five started, and five finished, and their journey has only begun. CEO will be here throughout their continued journey to help them."

The Mayor of Niagara Falls, Robert Restaino, also gave remarks emphasizing the importance of the program in building community and creating opportunities for residents.

“Nobody is disposable. If we’re going to build community together, we’re going to do that by putting people to work. If we’re going to become greater, we’re going to do it by taking residents and lifting them up. My hope is to figure out - how do we get this program to reach more Niagara residents?”

New York City

In collaboration with Pathways to Apprenticeship (P2A) Program, CEO New York City celebrated the graduation of twelve individuals who completed the five-week pre-apprenticeship curriculum.

The ceremony featured congratulatory remarks from key figures including P2A Executive Director Gyasi Headen, P2A Project Coordinator LeToya Washington, NYC Regional Director Cynthia Brackett, Bronx Site Director Keito Gray, and P2A and CEO alumni Anthony Patino. There was also an impressive turnout and a show of support from family and friends of graduates who attended the ceremony. Washington highlighted how committed this group of graduates were to the program, showing up every day on time and ready to learn.

The combined success of these graduation ceremonies exemplifies the positive impact of pre-apprenticeship programs in empowering justice-impacted communities. Congratulations to all the graduates for their achievements, and special thanks to the collaborative partners who contribute towards social and economic mobility.

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