Jamie Redmond, Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Redmond Foundation, talks about the inspiration and impact of the Building The Next Generation Scholarship Fund. The Redmond Foundation, a steadfast ally of City Colleges of Chicago, has established and sustained this scholarship specifically to support female-identifying students enrolled in Construction Management programs at Dawson Technical Institute (DTI) of Kennedy-King College.

Jaime Redmond of Redmond Construction and the Redmond Foundation
Jamie Redmond, Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Redmond Foundation

What inspired the creation of the Redmond Foundation?

Redmond sees the lack of diversity and representation in the AEC (Architectural, Engineering, and Construction) industry as an issue of equity and acknowledges that there are structural barriers for women and people of color to enter careers in the industry. Our team determined that one way we could have an impact on pathways to careers was through existing educational institutions. The Foundation works with Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago to support programming that is focused on exposing students to AEC industry roles and preparing them for meaningful careers. Our goal is to support the organizations already working on the ground in disinvested communities, and add our insight, expertise, and network power to improve outcomes for students in AEC career paths.

What is the Building The Next Generation Scholarship Fund and why was it created?  What has been its impact so far?

The scholarship fund was created to provide direct cash assistance to students that goes beyond tuition. We recognize that City Colleges students may be career changers, working parents, or in non-traditional college student roles. The funding can be used for anything from books to childcare, to commuting to meals. Those everyday barriers require a different kind of support in order for students to succeed, and our fund is made for those circumstances. It is also DACA friendly, because all students deserve a level playing field to pursue their education and career goals.

What inspired the Redmond Foundation to collaborate with City Colleges of Chicago for this scholarship fund?

Redmond saw the work that City Colleges was already doing to prepare students for good careers in the AEC industry, and we wanted to support a community college that was invested in the future of Chicago’s south and west-side students. Kennedy-King College and Dawson Technical Institute are trusted anchors in the Englewood neighborhood, and already have an established relationship with the community. Our view is that supporting existing, trusted programming is the best way to build long-term, positive outcomes for historically disinvested and underrepresented communities.

Why is it crucial to offer support and mentorship to students, especially women who aspire to pursue careers in the field of construction?

Construction has struggled with its reputation as unwelcoming to women and people of color, especially in the corporate and commercial world. Giving someone an opportunity in a new role is great, but without intentional support with relationships, networking, and coaching those opportunities can fall flat. It’s on our current industry leadership to be willing to drive cultural change and create spaces that are welcoming, transparent, and successful, and allow the next generation of leaders to thrive.

Why should other institutions consider investing in City Colleges of Chicago students?

City Colleges of Chicago has long been the stepping stone for first generation college students, students who want a high-quality affordable education, and students who want to make meaningful changes to their careers. The more business and employers engage with City Colleges and provide resources and expertise to ensure programs are funded, curriculums are relevant, and students are career-ready, the better it is for students and employers. We have an opportunity to bring students from historically disinvested communities into great careers with high earning potential and overcome those structural barriers.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the Redmond Foundation?

We’re excited to get even more deeply involved with Kennedy-King and Dawson’s programming and curriculums and hire City Colleges students as they come out of school.