In 2015, World Monuments Fund launched Bridge to Crafts Careers, an initiative established to provide training in the preservation trades. The program offers underrepresented young adults in the New York City area hands-on technical training with the opportunity for placement in a stable career.
A successful pilot program at the historic Woodlawn Cemetery
For its pilot program, WMF partnered with Woodlawn Conservancy, which manages the historic Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York, and the International Masonry Institute (IMI). Twelve paid interns participated in a summer program at the cemetery, which contains a large variety of stone types and excessively sized monuments and mauseolea, to receive training in stone masonry preservation. The interns were recruited from New York City public high schools focusing on preservation, including the Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design, and Bronx International High School, as well as from local social services agencies like The Door and Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow. All interns were required to have a high school diploma or a GED.
Under the supervision of a Resident Craftsman at Woodlawn Cemetery, a position specifically created with the help of IMI, the interns received eight weeks of classroom and hands-on training in masonry cleaning, conservation, and maintenance techniques. They also received an additional week of Occupational Safety and Health Administration training and scaffold safety training at IMI’s Long Island facility.
Following the internship program, three interns were selected for a 19-month paid apprenticeship at Woodlawn Cemetery. The balance were offered positions at New York-based private restoration firms or masonry contractors.
Bridge to Crafts Careers today
Building on the success of the 2015 pilot, additional internship programs were held at Woodlawn Cemetery in 2016 and 2017, continuing to feed budding craftspeople into the preservation work force. In summer 2017, an additional training program was developed with the New York City Department of Education to introduce junior and senior high school students to potential careers in preservation crafts. Two six-week programs were held simultaneously at Woodlawn Cemetery and the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
We’d like to thank the Heckscher Foundation for Children and the Hickory Foundation who have generously provided major support for the program.