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Chicago Builds

Chicago Builds is a citywide, two-year off-campus construction training program for CPS juniors and seniors interested in pursuing a career in construction after graduating high school.

Students participating in Chicago Builds receive technical training in Carpentry, Electricity, Heating and Cooling (HVAC), Welding, and General Construction. Students will receive high school credits for successful completion of the course curriculum. They also have opportunities to earn industry-recognized certifications (OSHA 10 Construction), prepare for union entrance exams, and participate in paid work experiences during the 11th grade summer transition to Year 2 of the program.

Students participating in Chicago Builds earn 2.5 credits for each year of participation in the program, which are applied toward their Career Education and Electives graduation requirement.

Chicago Builds classes meet five days a week as part of the regular school day at the Chicago Builds Construction campus at Dunbar High School (3000 S. King Drive). There are two cohorts of students participating in the program:

  • The AM cohort runs from 8:45 am - 10:45 am
    (Students return to their respective home schools after class.)
  • The PM cohort runs from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    (Students travel to class from their home schools after completion of their daily course work.)

How to Apply to Chicago Builds

Applications are open to all current 10th and 11th grade CPS students. Priority is given to 10th grade applicants (rising 11th graders) and those who have completed all requested documents, including the Parental Consent Form and the Student and Parent Expectations Contract. Student attendance is the most crucial requirement to successfully completing the course curriculum.

Upon acceptance, a letter of congratulations will be sent to the selected student. Students are required to “accept” their seats before enrollment is official. The first day of class starts on the very first day of school. The program follows the CPS district calendar, including all CPS holidays and school breaks.

Curriculum Overview

Year 1 (11th grade): Students participate in an Introduction to Construction course, completing a 10-week rotation in each of the construction pathways (Electrical, Carpentry, HVAC, Welding). Students are exposed to multiple career pathways in the construction industry; hear from guest speakers and leaders, and develop skills that can lead to gainful employment.

Year 2 (12th grade): Students specialize in one of the pathway areas to gain in-depth knowledge, related skills, and career-specific entrance requirements. Students participate in internships, visit union training facilities, complete a capstone project, and prepare for the pre-apprenticeship entrance exam.

Careers in Construction

Most workers in the construction industry are either structural, finishing, or mechanical workers, with some performing activities of more than one type. Careers include:

  • Carpentry: Carpenters construct or remodel residential and commercial buildings and can earn $37 - $45 per hour.*
  • Electrical: Electricians install and maintain all of the electrical and power systems for homes, businesses, and factories and can earn $40 - $45 per hour.*
  • Pipefitting/Welding: Pipefitters install, assemble, fabricate, maintain, and repair mechanical piping systems for refineries, power stations, and factories and can earn $46 - $51 per hour.*

*All salary ranges subject to change based upon industry standard.

Chicago Builds Partnerships and Advisory Council

Chicago Builds works with both union and non-union partners to maximize opportunities for students, including:

  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134
  • Peoples Gas
  • Power Construction
  • Women in the Trades - CWIT
  • General Construction Firms
  • Regional Council of Carpenters
  • Chicago Associated Steel Erectors
  • Pipefitters Local 597
  • International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 150
  • Laborers’ District Council
  • Pipefitters’ Local 597
  • American Bridge Company
  • CISCO (Construction Industry Service Organization)
  • Sodexo Magic
  • Chicago Fabricators
  • McCormick Place
  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • Walsh Construction

Campus Manager Isaac D. Carter


3000 S. King Drive, Suite 136 Chicago, IL 60616

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