DUBUQUE, Iowa—Local nonprofit organization the Fountain of Youth has teamed up with Spahn & Rose Lumber Co. on an innovative jobs program, Partners in Change.

“Partners in Change equips individuals trapped in generational poverty with opportunities to acquire education, job training and the social skills required to navigate through cultural divides in our society,” says Caprice Jones, Fountain of Youth’s Founder and Executive Director. “We hope to build this partnership model with multiple corporations in the community to provide options for employment and career development among our participants.”

Fountain of Youth offers mentoring, job training and help with life skills; Spahn & Rose, the first of potentially many other local companies as they become involved, will then provide work opportunities.

“If you have capacity to do something right, you should do it,” Spahn & Rose President and CEO Dave Davis says. “We’re able to help these people in the Dubuque area—that’s just the DNA of our company. This is part of our core values of giving back to the community.”

Spahn & Rose has a long history of giving back. It established the Spahn & Rose Charitable Foundation in 1950 to support programs that focus on higher education, healthy communities and helping at-risk youth. Over the last three years, the Foundation has donated more than $400,000 to a range of nonprofits and other worthy causes, including Fountain of Youth.

When Fountain of Youth constructed its office in 2017, Spahn & Rose donated building materials, including decking and a hydroponic garden. Davis has since served on the group’s Development Committee.

“We’ve developed a good relationship,” Davis says. “Now, with Partners in Change, rehabilitating people back into the community is the right thing to do.”

Partners in Change candidates are typically 18 or older, but those as young as 16 may participate with parental consent. Fountain of Youth interviews them to make sure their expectations align with the organization’s mission and values. Those accepted then have weekly one-on-one meetings with Fountain of Youth staff for between 60 days and six months; these sessions help them establish goals related to education, financial literacy, knowledge of self and others, health and wellness, citizenship, basic life skills and career success.

Despite the many difficulties of 2020, this year 35 people enrolled in Partners in Change, which will help them on a path to employment. Upon completion of the program, they’re eligible for an entry-level position at partner companies, which agree to mentor participants for at least six months. Participants will simultaneously continue to work with Fountain of Youth toward their goals, with a monthly conference call between Fountain of Youth and a company representative in which the new employees can chart their progress. For up to a year after they’re hired, employees and the company can contact the Fountain of Youth for needed support.

“The partnership between Spahn & Rose and the Fountain of Youth creates an important opportunity for individuals experiencing poverty to pursue gainful employment,” Jones says. “This is hopefully just the beginning.”

Davis, too, is excited about what Partners in Change can do for the community.

“We’ll start small, perhaps one or two hires, and hopefully build a model that other area businesses can learn from and adopt,” Davis says. “We hope to be part of a support system for those coming out of a struggling situation. This program is a pipeline back into society.”

About Spahn & Rose Lumber Co.

Headquartered in Dubuque, Spahn & Rose has been serving the professional contractor since 1904 and is a leading lumber distributor in the Midwest. With 24 locations throughout Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, Spahn & Rose provides high-quality building materials, such as windows, doors, cabinets, drywall, roofing, decking and lumber so that contractors can buy easier and build better.