During his early career, Michael Rosenband traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast and back as he worked for several different companies and attended business school—but all the while, he felt unfulfilled.
That all changed when he started coaching sports at a vocational high school.
“As I got closer to the students, I realized we could probably do a better job for preparing our young people for the future,” Rosenband said. “I didn’t know what this meant for me, but knew I had this business experience and this passion for youth and education. I wanted to see what I could do to blend those.”
As a baseball coach at Carver Vocational-Technical High School, a Black trade school in West Baltimore, he heard from his players that they felt frustrated and hopeless because their lack of experience meant they couldn’t to secure jobs.
However, one student had an idea.
“Sterling Hardy said, ‘Every day we walk past these vacant, dilapidated houses directly across from the school. There’s got to be a way to tie what we’re learning in the classroom to this real-world opportunity, address the concerns of the marketplace, and better our community,’” Rosenband recalled. “I said, ‘You’re right.’”
As an OSI fellow, Rosenband will work in partnership with Carver on a pilot program to bridge the gap between vocational education and career opportunities by giving 25 students the opportunity to repair a house in the Greater Rosemont and Matthew A. Henson neighborhoods. Now known as The Carver House, this house will undergo renovations and be equipped with “green,” energy-efficient utilities, and also the employment of building science with includes principles such as air tightness and super insulation.
“Why can’t this happen in West Baltimore?” Rosenband said. “Why can’t we be on the forefront of change as it relates to how we build and renovate our buildings?”
By applying a holistic approach to career training, consisting of classroom lessons with practical in-the-field training, students in carpentry, construction design, electrical, masonry, and business will be trained, equipped, and experienced as attractive hires for in-demand construction jobs and other career pathways.
The five-year plan for the program includes renovating nine homes for affordable ownership; certifying and placing 100 students in high-performance building construction jobs; and implementing a fully accredited reproducible, adaptable, and scalable curriculum elsewhere in the greater Baltimore area.
As this project gets underway, Rosenband describes it as a true collaboration with the students. In fact, Sterling Hardy, a 2012 Carver graduate, has also been deeply involved with this project since its inception.
“There’s nothing they’re too young or too inexperienced to be a part of,” Rosenband said. “The best ideas come from them.
“There’s a lot of young, untapped talent in our city. We want to embrace, harness, and train this young talent so they can find meaning in their livelihoods and opportunity.”