How to Build Successful Student Chapter Programs at Your HBA

Student Chapters
Contacts: Sarah Weber
Senior Director, Workforce Development & Student Chapters
(202) 266-8654

Jontice Small
Program Manager, Student Chapters
(202) 266-8941

As the residential construction industry faces a pivotal moment in recruiting talent, NAHB's Student Chapters program helps local HBAs partner with area schools to prepare a new generation for career opportunities in home building. But one challenge many HBAs face is understanding how to set up these programs and engage staff and students.

In Washington State, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS) established four new NAHB student chapters in two months as part of the HBA’s emerging professionals initiative. MBAKS is now the first HBA in the state to have active student chapters.

MBAKS’ success provides a blueprint for HBAs to begin or expand strong student chapter programs locally. Colby Goodman, MBAKS director of membership and councils, shared best practices on getting buy-in from local high schools and students to participate.

Just Get Started

Goodman emphasized that kicking off a student chapter program doesn’t need to be perfect. MBAKS’ strategy was flexible and Goodman discovered that putting the schools and students first is most important. Successful student chapters understand the needs students face in training and professional development, like providing access to hands-on construction projects to understand real-world situations and solutions.

Member involvement is also key. Forming a committee, like workforce development, helps the HBA develop a clear vision and execute it successfully. For a committee to be most effective, the executive officer or committee chair should help keep members focused on achieving clear, results-driven goals.

Have a Goal in Mind

MBAKS took the initiative to increase the talent pipeline by reaching out to programs in which members had graduated or were already highly involved.

MBAKS signed the first two participating schools simultaneously, working to identify resources and material considerations as they onboarded. Having two schools signed up produced buy-in from other schools’ faculty and administrators. The chapters’ enthusiasm allowed them to conduct business and manage daily needs independently — overseeing student activity and leading construction education initiatives, for example — where the HBA supports and assists as needed, like with funding or networking.

Collaboration is Key

MBAKS met with various high schools to learn about their existing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and to discuss how collaboration could expand them. Educators agreed that MBAKS’ support would offer students another valuable career path. In response to that enthusiasm, members were eager to participate and become mentors.

Members understand the value of mentoring students to reach the long-term goal of more young people entering the skilled trades. Likewise, students participating in student chapters gain access to future employers and get a first-hand look at opportunities in the home building industry.

As leaders in their communities, HBAs can work with local schools to provide resources and opportunities to develop the skilled trades pipeline. Learn more about starting a student chapter with this toolkit and visit

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