CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After 20 years in the Charlotte construction business, Demi Clark noticed a pattern.
"I just realized I was the only woman in the room so many times," Clark said.
And as a small-business owner, Clark knew there was an ongoing shortage of qualified electricians and plumbers.
"I thought, 'This has to change," Clark added.
Two years ago, Clark started She Built This City. The organization hosts afterschool programs, camps and workshops for girls and women of all ages. The average apprentice is 32 years old. The courses train them in various construction trade skills.
At a minimum, they learn valuable life skills. In some cases, they walk away with a new career.
"A woman coming into our program is getting a life-changing skill for them and their family," executive director LaToya Faustin said.
Across the country, it's estimated only 10% of the workers in this field are women.
Clarke hopes She Built This City is a starting-off point since learning a trade can lead to entrepreneurship and the next generation constructions jobs.
Clark said her trainees are diversifying the industry, while also addressing some of the worker shortages.
"When you invest in a woman, you invest in the whole community," Faustin said.
Nearly two million women have dropped out of the labor force amid the pandemic. How will they come back?
A nonprofit based in west Charlotte is trying to make a difference. It’s called She Built This City and was founded by Demi Knight Clark, a residential construction industry executive for over 20 years. They empower women and girls in the construction and manufacturing trades.
You can help by making a donation. $25 provides one youth experience in the explorer kids program to spark interest in construction and maker trades.
A $50 provides one youth with an opportunity to learn 3D printing, virtual reality and other 2030 technology pathways.
WCNC Charlotte and the TEGNA Foundation will match up to the first $2,000 donated.
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