NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is widely celebrated with a day of service. Several hundred volunteers spent the day building new homes as part of an innovative project.
Brenda a volunteer from Fidelity Bank said, "It's something different I never really did before."
Jason with Teach for America said, "I think it's important to come out. We're teachers, but we also want to show our students that we also come out and do some volunteer work and they can too."
Think of Uncommon Construction as shop class, a paid apprenticeship and job shadowing rolled into one school partnership. The semester's long program selects students to design and build houses learning the physical work and supervising volunteers.
Aaron Frumin founded the organization, "It becomes so much more of an experience that's going to last much longer than it is today."
The houses these volunteers are working on will soon be completed just like one down the street that has transformed a blighted lot.
Liz Brockman with Fidelity Bank said, "It's a domino effect as these properties are getting fixed up and increasing value of the neighborhood. It's just going to keep growing."
Frumin says their program is naturally occurring affordable housing as their goal is investing in the students and getting quick sales that can be reinvested.
Each student gets a scholarship match to their paychecks.
Frumin said, "We call it an equity award because it represents their earned equity in the project they built together as well as a more equitable pathway from education to employment."
Joy Okoro, Teach for America Greater New Orleans Executive Director said, "The issues that really impact our kids goes beyond the classroom so they get to have a real, meaningful, impactful experience on a Monday afternoon, both honoring Dr. King, but also doing something that they know will put their students on a different life path."
Improving the neighborhoods they live, work and go to school in as well as helping expand access to opportunities on a day honoring a man and movement that championed equality.