MCA of Eastern Missouri Partners on New Diversity Initiative

October 22, 2020
Recent graduates of the CHAMPIONS program celebrate their completion of the program and the start of new careers. Front row, from left: Desiree Baldwin, Carly Carmosino from MCA-EMO, Megan Seabaugh-Evergreen, Carmell Bradley, and Marcus Coty. Second row, from left: Byron Cook, Jeremy Ruff, Mark Gainey, Joshua Temple, Andre Hickman, and Malik Johnson. Back row, from left: Willie Pride, Brandon Townson, and Local 562 Director of Minority Recruitment Fred Searcy. Graduates Nicholis Eason and Raymond Straughter are not pictured. (Photo by Barb Pierce/M2Pierce photo)

The MCA of Eastern Missouri (MCA-EMO) has partnered with UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 and the Plumbing Industry Council (PIC) for CHAMPIONS, an innovative program designed to expand membership diversity in the city of St. Louis while also strengthening the Local 562 workforce.

The first class of CHAMPIONS, an acronym for Creating Hometown Advantages through Minority Participation in Our Neighborhood, recently completed an initial six weeks of intensive classroom training and technical introduction to the trades. Classes were held at Local 562’s new state-of-the-art training facility in Earth City, MO.

As part of the program, the 14 students committed to a multi-faceted course curriculum and engaged in weekly mentorship and evaluation sessions. By completing the requirements, the graduates were guaranteed a full year of employment with a CHAMPIONS Initiative contractor.

MCAA members Corrigan Company; Haberberger, Inc.; icon Mechanical; Integrated Facility Services; Murphy Company; and Charles E. Jarrell Contracting Company are among those that have committed to hiring the graduates. During their year with the contractors, graduates will continue their training as pre-Apprentices in the field, while fulfilling program requirements related to mentorship and performance evaluation.

“The CHAMPIONS pilot program was carefully designed and implemented in the best interest of the participants and our hiring contractors’ long-term success. The ongoing collaboration with our labor partners, and everyone involved, is unprecedented.”
said Kristy Stephens, MCA-EMO executive director.

Steve Faust, business development and diversity coordinator for icon Mechanical, worked with Local 562, MCA-EMO and PIC to help develop the new program. “As we looked ahead at our industry’s work in the city of St. Louis over the next few years, we realized that we needed a continuing and larger diverse workforce,” said Faust. “We examined other apprenticeship training programs ‘out there’ and tried to adopt best practices that would ensure that enough craftspersons would be trained and available. In addition to the soft-skills and hard-skills training, we are excited that each person has two mentors — a seasoned journeyman as well as Fred Searcy, director of minority recruitment for Local 562.”

The participants went through a rigorous competitive interview and application process. “The initial cohort demonstrated an outstanding commitment to program terms and to Local 562; and formally agreed to be fully engaged in all facets of the program,” said Carly Carmosino, program manager for MCA-EMO, who helped to design and deliver the CHAMPIONS professional development classes as enrichment to the technical training.

She noted that, “We collaborated with several area not-for-profits, Mission STL and Prosperity Connection, as well as the St. Louis Community College Workforce Solutions Group and Dale Carnegie to provide essential tools and advice to our mentors and program participants.” She added that, “We focused on developing the whole person, so that throughout the program, participants strengthened both their technical and soft-skills aptitude.”

Scenes from Graduation

CHAMPIONS graduate and elected class speaker Desiree Baldwin delivers a heartfelt message to the graduates and their families.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page congratulates the CHAMPIONS for embarking on a new career.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 562 Business Manager John O’Mara look on as CHAMPIONS participant Malik Johnson accepts his graduation certificate and a hard hat from his new employers, icon Mechanical Business Development and Diversity Coordinator Steve Faust and President Jeff Rush. Jeff is also President of MCA-EMO.
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