The first P.A.L.M. home project, completed in 2015.
Picasa The first P.A.L.M. home project, completed in 2015.

In the face of the ongoing labor shortage, the Future Builders of America (FBA), a nonprofit focused on promoting careers in construction to high school students and connecting its members with local builders, aims to expand its educational offerings and cultivate student interest in construction with its second P.A.L.M. Home project in Port Charlotte, Fla.

The P.A.L.M. (Professionals Actively Leading & Mentoring) Home is spearheaded by current FBA president Beth Cantin-Brown and sponsored by the Charlotte-DeSoto Building Industry Association. The project provides interested FBA members with the chance to plan, construct, and sell a home in cooperation with local building professionals over the course of 12 to 14 months.

The project’s construction is funded by corporate sponsorships and donations—a contribution of over $200,000 to date. All of the professional members of the construction team have volunteered their time in an effort to pass on their knowledge, and the FBA hopes that the connections forged between the students and builders may lead to future employment opportunities and, by extension, an expansion of the available construction labor force.

The first P.A.L.M. Home was completed and sold in 2015. The project received an NAHB Association Excellence Award that year for Best Revenue Effort. “It was a great hands-on experience,” Cantin-Brown says. “One of my best employees … was a graduate of this program, and he’s working with me now on one of my sites.”

The second home is currently in the planning and permitting process in Charlotte County, which has waived the project’s permitting fees. The FBA will use the revenue from this program to fund its scholarship and educational programs. These include hands-on learning experiences, scholarships, trips to the Southeast Building Conference and the International Builders’ Show, and the FBA’s yearly Leadership Summit, a networking and team-­building workshop for FBA members.

The FBA has 13 high school chapters that include about 300 student members across central Florida, formed in cooperation with local educators, interested students, and at least one builders’ association member. Four to five more chapters are set to come on line in 2017.