- Turner Construction Co., the largest contractor in the U.S., has established a grant program at Alabama’s Tuskegee University to provide the school’s architecture, construction science and management and engineering programs $70,000 annually.
- The funds at the historically Black university will provide tuition assistance and financial support to students for software and equipment, as well as cover travel expenses to conferences and academic competitions.
- The grant program will help achieve the mission of Booker T. Washington, the school’s first president, who charged students to “Learn to do by doing.” The funding program will begin during the current fall semester, the university announced in a release.
Tuskegee University is one of eight historically Black colleges and universities that Turner works with on the professional development and training fronts, according to Charles Stewart, vice president of diverse recruiting and outreach at Turner.
“We have long been creative and intentional in reaching out to people who historically have been underrepresented in the construction industry. We want our projects and company to reflect the communities in which we build,” Stewart said in an email. “This collaboration with Tuskegee University will expand the school’s mission by historically and philosophically exploring African-American education and diversifying the profession.”
Peter Davoren, Turner’s CEO, has been a vocal proponent of increasing diversity and inclusion in the predominantly White construction field. He has spoken out against the scourge of racist incidents on construction sites, including displays of nooses and hateful graffiti, that has plagued the industry in recent years.
In 2021, Turner was one of the leading founders of Construction Inclusion Week, which aims to increase tolerance on jobsites and bring more people of color into the sector. This year’s event, which models itself on the industry’s previous efforts to improve safety on jobsites, is scheduled for Oct. 17-21.
In the face of an endemic labor shortage, other major construction firms have focused on supporting university programs that can bring more young diverse professionals into the field, or help those already in the trades compete more effectively.
Omaha, Nebraska-based Kiewit has a scholarship program that awards $5,000 in tuition per semester to minority and women students who are dependents of employees at the firm and are accepted into a construction management or engineering program.
And Skanska recently partnered with the University of South Florida’s Office of Supplier Diversity to mentor minority-owned local businesses on training, development, and partnership opportunities to become more competitive in the bidding process.