A Closer Look at ConstructConnect’s Support of #AECCaresProjectDC

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What if you could make a difference in someone’s life by transforming their living space? 

Since 2011, members of the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) community have rallied for an annual day of service with that goal in mind. Organized by 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization AEC Cares and led by founding partner ConstructConnect, each annual day of service benefits a different community group in the same city as that year’s AIA Conference on Architecture & Design.  

We recently spoke with ConstructConnect Chief Product Officer Jennifer Johnson, who also serves as President of the AEC Cares Board of Directors, about this year’s event. Held in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, June 5, the first day of AIA24, #AECCaresProjectDC will benefit Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a leading provider of services for youth in the city. 

 “We always say AEC Cares is one day that’s a year in the making,” says Johnson. “We host what we call a ‘blitz build’ to support a local nonprofit organization, mobilizing volunteers, donors, and sponsors within the community, with a particular focus on supporting groups that assist veterans, women, or children in need.”  

For 2024, AEC Cares will renovate Sasha Bruce Youthwork’s Residential Empowerment Adolescent Community Home (REACH) in Capitol Hill’s historic Barracks Row. This is the second time that AEC Cares has partnered with Sasha Bruce Youthwork, with the first project occurring in 2012 to revitalize two of the group’s other homes for youth in the nation’s capital.  

Previous AEC Cares locations also include Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, and San Francisco – with the most recent project, in San Francisco, receiving industry recognition for its impact. The IIDA Northern California Honor Awards recently bestowed the 2024 Summit Award for Achievement in Partnership on AEC Cares 2023 #projectSanFrancisco benefiting The Lark-Inn in San Francisco. Says Johnson, “Such recognition highlights how AEC Cares projects maximize donations to address critical community needs.”

“When you have almost 100 volunteers onsite, you can get a lot done in a day,” explains Johnson. “That is what we concentrate on: bringing a radical transformation to a space for a community, like Sasha Bruce Youthwork’s REACH home.” 

The site of this year’s project, REACH, is a community-based home for youth ages 12 to 17 awaiting trial and who would benefit from additional community and social support. Renovation efforts will focus on enhancing a homelike environment for the young residents who call REACH home, while also creating spaces to support the home’s mission to provide individual, group, and family counseling, educational remediation, life skills coaching, and self-esteem building. 

“We are concentrating on things to make it much more of a warm environment, where its young residents can feel safe and supported,” says Johnson. “When they return at the end of the blitz build, the intent is for REACH residents to encounter a completely renovated space. This includes more welcoming entrances, enhanced meeting and gathering spaces, and refreshed sleeping quarters.”  

While AEC Cares is primarily driven by ConstructConnect, it is also made possible by a host of sponsors, donors, and volunteers – including a pro bono design team and building product manufacturers who generously contribute their products.  

“Really, we could not pull this project off without all of our sponsors, donors, and partners,” says Johnson. “It truly is a 365-day effort that unfolds in a single 24-hour period.” 

To learn how you can get involved, including as a sponsor or donor, visit AECCares.com.    

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