A partnership between the District government and private sector, the DC Infrastructure Academy will provide specialized training and workforce development programming for jobs in the growing infrastructure sector here in the nation’s capital.
The academy’s story is one of “promises made and promises delivered,” said a teary-eyed Courtney Snowden, D.C.’s Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity, at the academy’s unveiling on March 12.
Snowden recounted to a crowd of residents, city officials, and stakeholders, the story of a five-year-old-girl who was shot in nearby Wellington Park two years ago. When asked what they needed to prevent further violence, the community asked for well-paying jobs in their community.
The newly minted DCIA building, which stands at 2330 Pomeroy Road SE, is a gateway to that economic stability. By targeting infrastructure workforce development, the academy seeks to arm D.C. residents with jobs in transportation, energy, utilities, and IT infrastructure—making them eligible for two million jobs nationally and 2,500-3,000 openings locally.
Mayor Muriel Bowser, who toured the facility after remarks, said DCIA is part of her “pathway to the middle class” for residents. The average hourly wage of jobs available to academy graduates will be $48.75, nearly $10 more than the wages of high-earning utilities industry workers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Central to the success of the academy will also be the public-private partnerships forged through its programming. Odie Donald II, the outgoing Director of Department of Employment Services, noted DOES’ role in convening multiple partners on the project including Washington Gas, DC Water, the University of the District of Columbia, WMATA and Pepco-Exelon.
Pepco gave the largest financial contribution to the academy’s $21 million dollar price tag with a $5 million contribution. Bill Von Hoene Jr. of Exelon and Dave Velazquez of Pepco Holdings both noted the importance of DCIA in providing a skilled workforce for their companies.
The academy’s primary funding was not without controversy. The $17 million set aside in the mayor’s budget for the projects was threatened by cuts from the D.C. council until Ward 8 councilmember Trayon White and At-Large Alissa Silverman worked with residents and stakeholders to bring funding back on track.
White told the crowd, “We are proud to have it here in Ward 8…The Mayor put it in the budget and the Council took it out…and residents of Ward 8 came to the meeting and made sure that the money got put back in the budget.”
The academy already has a pioneering student in Malik Jennings. Donald said he ran into Jennings, a skilled utility worker waiting tables, while working on plans for the academy. Due to the relationships forged with partners and stakeholders through DOES, Jennings was placed in an accelerated program and became the first academy graduate before ground had broken on the building.
D.C. residents interested in DCIA programming can find information on the DOES site or make their way to the facility in SE. As an added incentive for residents to experience the economic opportunities available at DCIA, Deputy Mayor Snowden noted that transportation costs from Anacostia or Congress Heights stations would be covered as well.