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Preserving the Past, Preparing for the Future – Woodlawn’s Bridge to Craft Careers Program

 Woodlawn is home to the largest collection of funerary art in the United States. The mausolea, monuments, and funerary sculptures were crafted by some of the country’s most famous architects and artisans. To support the preservation of these historic structures, in collaboration with the World Monuments Fund and the International Masonry Institute, Woodlawn established the Bridge to Crafts Careers Preservation Training Program (PTP) in 2015. The 400-acre burial ground has approximately 130,000 memorials including 1300 private family mausoleums.  Constructed of marble, limestone, and a variety of granites over a 155-year period, Woodlawn is an ideal location to teach cleaning, caulking, and mortar re-pointing. Since 2015, Interns and Apprentices have restored over 200 monuments and mausolea, through hands-on experience using the skills necessary to transition into careers caring for the diversity of buildings found in the greater metropolitan area.

We at Woodlawn are so proud of our spring 2020 Cohort of PTP interns. Their internship had just begun when Coronavirus intensified, causing schools and offices to close their doors. Woodlawn’s response was to move the classroom portion of the program to Zoom. Our interns were able to benefit from the expertise of our guest lecturers, submit their sketches and homework, and complete their 30-hour OSHA training on-line.

Additional training in life-skills, financial management, interview skills, resume writing, and workplace etiquette was conducted by The Door, our non-profit partner, with expertise in providing a comprehensive approach to youth services.

On June 8th, the cohort was allowed back on site when New York City entered Phase 1 of re-opening. This enabled the students to gain hands-on experience with the use of D-2, an environmentally sensitive cleaning agent and tools used to clean monuments and receive certification in Jahn Mortar (masonry repair material), and Stationary Scaffolding training.

The PTP program has been so successful that in the fall of 2020 it will be expanded to include students interested in a career in landscaping and horticulture. This 10-week paid internship will include both hands-on and classroom learning here at Woodlawn. This program is generously funded by the new Advance and Earn initiative, which was launched this spring by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development. Involvement from The Door will assist with recruiting students and implementation of workforce development skills and the Davey Institute, the research, education, and training arm of the Davey Tree Expert Company will appoint instructors to teach subjects such as small tree and shrub pruning, planting of perennials, tree, and shrubs, post-planting care and landscape bed maintenance. Please visit our website at www.woodlawn.org for additional information as it becomes available.

Woodlawn is the perfect environment for this pilot project as it a Level II Arboretum, a 400-acre urban oasis with over 6,300 trees representing more than 140 different species. In addition, many of the archival architectural plans for the monuments contain the historical planting plan that is part of Woodlawn’s site restoration.

The success of this program is immediate. Our young people have gone on to careers in Local 1, the Bricklayers and Associated Craftworkers Union, and others have gone on to work for independent restoration firms and in the construction industry. If you know a young person interested in either the Preservation Training Program or the Landscape Architecture Program, please click here.

The Woodlawn PTP Program is made possible through the generous support of foundations, government grants, and individual donors. We would like to thank our non-profit partners, the International Masonry Institute, the Door, and the World Monuments Fund. Foundation support has been generously provided by the Altman Foundation, The New York Community Trust, The Dellora A. and Lester J. Norris Foundation, Achelis & Bodman Foundation, and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and by public funds allocated by NYC Council Member Andrew Cohen through the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development. If you are interested in supporting this program, please call 718-408-5624.

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