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Guilford County Awarded $500,000 in Nationwide Innovation Competition

  • Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, N.C., was recently awarded $500,000 in a nationwide competition to generate solutions to address the nation’s affordable housing crisis.

    The award, also given to four other applicants, is part of phase three of the Fannie Mae Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge. The winning proposals, selected from more than 200, will implement ideas for improving affordable housing in the winners’ respective communities.

    The Guilford County Schools proposal, called “Developing Valuable Skills in Green Construction and Geospatial Technology,” will expand its career and technical education through “Safer Together Green Housing,” a dual-curriculum program that aims to teach students in the district’s CTE Construction program employable skills in construction and to build a pipeline of skilled trade workers, while also increasing the supply of affordable housing in Greensboro. Guilford County board member Winston McGregor and teacher John Hensley talk with students from the Academy at Smith

    As part of the program, the district will collaborate with local agencies, such as the City of Greensboro and the Greensboro Housing Coalition, to rehabilitate 40 homes every year.

    Officials envision the Safer Together Green Housing project leading to a growth in the CTE construction program. They hope to graduate approximately 100 students from at least five district schools each year, as well as to provide a model for urban school systems across the country.

    According to school district officials, affordable housing challenges greatly impact the Greensboro community, as 28,000 children live in households below the poverty level and a majority of those are unsafe homes. Mold and inadequate ventilation are among the common problems in these homes, conditions that have led to more than 8,000 children going to the hospital for treatment of various maladies. 

    “It is not enough to just educate our students,” said Kathleen Dawson, chief innovation officer for the Guilford school district and project leader for Guilford’s proposal. “We must create the space for them to become positive influencers for social justice.”