Making a Difference for Youth in San Mateo County

Members of the Summer Build '23

Nicole Davis, a member of the Leadership CORPS Class of 2024, is seeing new possibilities for her nonprofit, Fortitude Careers, that serve both her students and the community. 

Fortitude's mission is to serve young adults in their ambition to build a successful career in the construction trades, and to train the “whole person.” Program participants, usually 18-24 year-olds, most right out of high school, learn construction techniques that enable them to perform on a large commercial job site. In addition, they take intensive training in Life Mastery curriculum that includes effective communication, financial literacy, career planning, and emotional intelligence.

Nicole came to Leadership CORPS with Fortitude’s mission in her mind and heart and has been having one aha moment after another. Through her Learning Day experiences, new relationships with classmates, and connections with the extended Leadership Council SMC community, new possibilities for Fortitude have opened up.

“Truthfully, I’m not sure what I thought Leadership CORPS was when I signed up for it,” said Nicole. “I knew it would bring me connectivity with others in the community and give me new skills for my resume. I didn’t expect the really beautiful experiences that are emerging.”

New Program Offering

One of the possibilities is the chance to expand Fortitude’s training to the Coast where few programs of this type exist. With a small grant received last year, Nicole and her team now hope to offer a new eight-week program on the Coast in October. Through her CORPS and Leadership Council SMC connections and new relationships, Nicole and her team are speaking with nonprofits and Coast cities to solve their biggest challenge: finding a space to hold in-person training in the Fall of 2024.

Offering Services - A Future Possibility

Another moment when her Leadership CORPS experience created new possibilities for Nicole was during January’s “Human Services” Learning Day in Half Moon Bay. She visited Coast House Shelter, a site run by LifeMoves that provides temporary living accommodations and intensive on-site support services to those experiencing homelessness. After taking the tour, Nicole could see how Fortitude graduates could give back to their community — by offering construction / building maintenance services to Coast House! The Fortitude alumni motto is “As you have been served, also serve others.” Fortitude's 360° experience empowers alumni to give back, and hopefully will also inspire Coast House residents to enroll in the program. While connections and planning are still in the works, Nicole is clear that this would not have come about without the exposure she gained from her Leadership CORPS participation.

“It was a powerful moment and felt like the Learning Day was a perfection of what Leadership Council SMC is all about: Connecting the right people to get the right things done in the community,” said Nicole. “We have an element of giving back in our Fortitude programs, and this is a perfect fit. This would be an amazing opportunity to bring what Fortitude has to offer to a need in the community.”

Leadership CORPS Is Making a Difference 

Nicole enthusiastically shared that Leadership Council SMC connections are making a difference for her and for Fortitude in ways she could not have anticipated. After reaching out to another Leadership Council SMC community member, they’re working on a video that will showcase Fortitude’s work to the world. And she’s making connections with alumni in the community that share interests and goals. 

“My experience in Leadership CORPS has exceeded my expectations,” said Nicole. “It has blossomed into something I never expected and it all came about organically as part of the program. I’m looking forward to further cultivating the relationships I’ve formed here; as the CORPS alumni network continues to expand, the impact and support it offers is significant. Such a robust network is indispensable for a program deeply rooted in community engagement.” 

Want to learn more about the good work of Fortitude Careers? Check out their website.