At Rebuilding Exchange, we repurpose building materials that would otherwise enter landfills in environmentally overburdened neighborhoods and provide skills training for people living in poverty, with an overarching commitment to workforce training and economic development in Chicago's underserved communities.
Rebuilding Exchange has four distinct social enterprise areas which achieve our mission. Our 25,000 square foot retail warehouse provides affordable reclaimed building materials to the general public. Our public workshops educate Chicagoans on how to use reclaimed materials and live more sustainably. RX Made, our in-house custom fabrication workshop, demonstrates the reuse of our materials through the creation of repurposed furniture.
This project will support the fourth component of Rebuilding Exchange’s work: a job training program which provides individuals with barriers to employment critical training spanning a six-month apprenticeship that includes both skills and certifications. Our program comprises:
- Certifications in Forklift, LEAD RRP and OSHA
- Training in building deconstruction, tool proficiency, woodworking, and materials management
- Immersive training in customer service and retail merchandising
- A full apprenticeship in a consumer-facing warehouse and retail environment
Rebuilding Exchange’s employment training program provides opportunities to Chicagoans facing a variety of employment barriers, which include homelessness and prior incarceration, as well as addiction and lack of a high school diploma. We are working with Chicago’s most underserved communities: 77% of our job trainees have only achieved a high school diploma or GED, 86% are formerly incarcerated, and 100% have been affected by homelessness or poverty.
In working with our team and immersing trainees in our mission, we help them see the inarguable symmetry between the repurpose of things and the repurpose of self.
Funded by Chicago, IL (July 2019)