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Chicago Public Schools Honors Class of 2024 Chicago Builds Graduates

30 May 2024

CPS Students Graduate with Industry-Recognized Certifications

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Pedro Martinez honored Chicago Builds graduates today during a celebration with students, families and community members at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134. Chicago Builds is an industry-recognized pre-apprenticeship training program where students explore multiple career pathways in the construction industry. In addition to earning their high school diploma, approximately 83 Class of 2024 Chicago Builds graduates earned industry-recognized certifications in electrical, carpentry, heating and cooling (HVAC) and welding. These graduates are among an estimated 14,000 CPS students enrolled in Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes, including 1,000 scholars who explored the District’s Model Pathways Programming in addition to about 7,000 students in Early College STEM High Schools.

“Chicago Builds provides critical pathways for our students who are pursuing careers in the trades,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “This partnership with IBEW Local 134 and ComEd is one way that we are making the skilled trades pathway more accessible for our students. These partnerships provide the tools and resources that our students need in order to empower their future success in the trades.”

Chicago Builds was established in 2016 to provide students with a clear pathway to a career in the building trades after high school. Through Chicago Builds, CPS students can earn up to five credits over their junior and senior years. They begin with a 10-week rotation that covers the basic skills in electrical, carpentry, HVAC and welding. Students can then move on to advanced training in these fields.

“ComEd’s partnership with CPS is helping the city’s high school students gain the skills they need to pursue meaningful and good paying jobs in the trades and support the clean energy transition in Illinois,” said Gil Quiniones, CEO and President of ComEd. “This diverse, dedicated workforce will play a critical role in strengthening and modernizing the grid to keep pace with growth in EVs and solar, as well as to maintain reliability amid severe weather due to climate change.”

All Builds participants can also work towards certifications in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10 Construction Safety, a program designed by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Core for entry-level construction workers that introduces students to basic construction skills and prepares them for entry-level positions on project sites and medical training in CPR and First Aid.

“The trades are an incredibly important career pathway with high earning potential for our student body and District community,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Bogdana Chkoumbova. “The partnership with Chicago Builds is essential to students’ understanding of those career pathways, particularly the credentials and skill sets required to be successful in those fields.”

Chicago Builds students learn from industry leaders and develop technical skills that can lead to gainful employment while still in high school as well as help them start a career after graduation. Builds training integrates construction, math, and literacy skills, and helps students develop entrepreneurship skills, and prepares them for union entrance exams and certifications. Students also participate in internships, visit union training facilities, complete a capstone project, and prepare for pre-apprenticeship entrance exams.

Through a partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, 42 Class of 2024 graduates will receive a grant to continue advancing their skills through the Illinois Works Construction Pre-apprenticeship Program. The state-recognized pre-apprenticeship program provides skills training through a network of non-profit, community-based organizations, including community colleges, faith-based organizations and business associations in the construction industry and building trades. Participants attend tuition-free and receive a stipend and other supportive services to help overcome systemic barriers to entering the construction industry.

In addition to Chicago Builds, CPS offers at least 35 Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways at more than 80 high schools across the city, including 12 construction trades programs, five carpentry, three in electricity, three in welding, and one HVAC program. The District’s CTE programs allow students to gain work experience for in-demand careers as well as provide opportunities to earn early college credit and industry-recognized certifications and skills training at 12 CPS high schools.

CPS has developed a strong partnership with the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) through the Chicago Roadmap, which aims to support students along a seamless path to and through post-secondary training on their way to their chosen careers. This alignment between CCC and CPS works to address achievement gaps and to improve communication across systems to better prepare students for success in high school and beyond. Chicago Builds highlights this network of supportive and aligned government and community partner services that allow students to explore careers and connect them to opportunities that will make them competitive for high-demand occupations.

Together with CCC, the District is also working to establish a talent pipeline with support from the Blum-Kovler Foundation through the Master Builder Construction Trade Program. The Master Builder Program allows students to earn dual credits from CCC as high school students focused on construction and skilled trades.

Chicago Builds is part of the District’s commitment to equitable, student-centered education that prepares students socially, emotionally and academically to enter the workplace, a training program, or higher education.


About Chicago Public Schools (CPS)
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is dedicated to providing a high-quality education to all students, beginning with the District’s free full-day preschool programming for four-year-old scholars and continuing through neighborhood, magnet and selective-enrollment elementary schools that provide a rigorous K-8 education with schools that specialize in the fine arts, world language and culture, dual language, STEM, International Baccalaureate (IB), classical programs, and more. The rising District-wide freshmen-on-track and high school graduation rates reflect the hard work of the CPS community, including families, staff, and students across 635 schools. CPS celebrates the diversity of its more than 322,000 students who cite 182 home languages. Learn more about CPS at and connect with CPS on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

About City Colleges of Chicago
CCC is one of the largest community college systems in Illinois, with more than 3,800 faculty and staff serving 54,000 students annually at seven colleges and five satellite sites. City Colleges’ vision is to be recognized as the city’s most accessible higher education engine of socioeconomic mobility and racial equity – empowering all Chicagoans to take part in building a stronger and more just city. Learn more about City Colleges of Chicago at

About The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership
The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) is the non-profit umbrella organization that operates the largest public workforce system in the country. As the designated administrator of federal workforce development funding for the City of Chicago and Cook County, The Partnership oversees a network of more than 90 community-based organizations, American Job Centers, satellite sites, and sector-driven centers as well as approximately a dozen other workforce-related initiatives funded by public and private funds.

About Chicago Roadmap
By providing access to high-quality programs, advising and supports, career exploration, and preparedness, the Chicago Roadmap strives to dramatically and equitably increase student outcomes in college enrollment, college degree attainment, and employment. The Roadmap is made possible thanks in part to generous philanthropic contributions made to the Children First Fund: the Chicago Public Schools Foundation (CFF) and the City Colleges of Chicago Foundation (CCCF). Children First Fund serves as a fiscal sponsor for the Chicago Roadmap and works in close partnership with CCCF to support the advancement of the Chicago Roadmap.