Looking up at the wall of construction trainees, Andrew made up his mind. “I can do that,” he thought to himself. Having just turned 18, he was wondering what was next when he decided he wanted to pursue a career in union construction.

Andrew is from the San Gabriel Valley and goes to school in Pasadena. In 2021 – at 17 years old – Andrew was arrested for a misdemeanor. Instead of going through the traditional justice system process, Andrew was presented with the opportunity to enroll in the Youth of Promise (YOP) program because of a diversion partnership between Flintridge Center and the Pasadena Police Department. “I hadn’t heard about anything like that,” he shared. “I thought that once you get in trouble with the police, that was it and it was over with. I decided to take the opportunity.”

Andrew worked to create a care plan with his YOP case manager – participating in traumainformed life skills classes and attending community field trips. During this time, he was “always leaving Flintridge taking something back home that I didn’t know that day, or looking at something differently than I did walking in.”

After 6 months of hard work, Andrew completed his care plan. His misdemeanor charge was dismissed, and his arrest record sealed. But then came the question – what was next for him?

Andrew’s life skills classes had taken place in the same classroom as the Apprenticeship Preparation Program (APP) – another Flintridge Center program that prepares formerly incarcerated adults for union construction careers – and his case manager noticed that he was always looking up at the wall of APP graduates. Andrew was picturing a future for himself in union construction, and when he told his case manager, they worked to create a path towards that future. Shortly after his record was sealed, Andrew enrolled in the APP.

He spent ten weeks in the class learning the skills and tools to begin his career. “I liked that they brought in a lot of different things – life skills, financial literacy, math, site visits – it was evenly balanced and the community in the class was great,” he said. After graduating in November, Andrew is now pursuing a career in the Carpenter’s union.

Andrew was provided with an opportunity instead of incarceration– and he took it.

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