Alumni Profile: Paul Robinson (St. Louis 2017)

Posted by: Dionne Peeples-Jones (Portland 2003) | June 19, 2020

DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative

How did you know that you were called to reach this generation of youth?

I knew in high school that God had called me to preach and to proclaim His Word. During that time, I brushed my calling aside as I felt too young and not well-versed. It was during my sophomore year at Kansas State University when I accepted the call to ministry. I led a campus Bible study, which afforded me the unique opportunity to have spiritual conversations with budding young adults about God. It was then that I recognized how the transition from adolescence to young adulthood is a pivotal season in life and also a time when the church loses roughly 75 percent of youth who grow up in it. This alarming statistic confirmed where I wanted to focus my attention, and in 2000, I went into youth ministry. Fast forward to May 2018—I started ConstructReach. At first glance, ConstructReach might not appear to be a ministry because of our association with corporate businesses. At its core, we are committed to helping young adults transition into adulthood in a healthy way and to be well-positioned to make informed decisions. 

Describe how ConstructReach fulfills its mission. 

ConstructReach is a national workforce development company that builds reachable opportunities through construction. We engage a diverse demographic to showcase different career options within the construction industry. This is accomplished by uniting major retail brands, general contractors, educators, and students. We work closely with companies to create an innovative internship curriculum that takes the diversity of gender, race, nationality, and other factors existent in their region into account and promotes the diversification of its employees. We also help students identify internships, apprenticeships, and careers. 

Why do you think God has called you to this work? 

In my professional career as a construction project manager for Target, God blessed me tremendously. He has given me a heart to do everything I can to help young people have the best possible future. This points to the principle of servant leadership. What God has allowed me to achieve professionally has positioned me to serve others by providing them with opportunities for promising careers. 

What do you hope to accomplish while you serve in this capacity? 

I hope to be able to help change economic situations for young people who are typically under-resourced and to be a catalyst for allowing individuals to discover and operate in their area of gifting. I hope ConstructReach will lead the movement for a more diversified construction industry and will expand this diversity mindset into other industries.  

What challenges have you or the organization had to overcome? 

When dealing with diversity, you are trying to implement true change, and that’s a matter of changing people’s hearts, which can get laborious! Altering people’s perspective takes vision casting, leading in vulnerability, redundancy, creativity, and leveraging the power of the story. It involves having to pull people into a narrative that enables them to see the similarities. The biggest challenge is to build bridges instead of walls at points of difference. When bridges of diversity are built appropriately, it should yield life-changing fruit. 

What has the program accomplished that makes you most proud? 

I’m most proud of our ability to create a community that unites a younger, diverse demographic with industry professionals. As we continuously design and implement the program, the response of both employers and interns has been extremely positive.

What collaborative opportunities are benefiting this work? 

One company we partner with is Target. Our work with Target has allowed us to present and “re-posture” the image of construction to a younger audience. We also partner with the American School Counselor Association, which enables us to systematically put educators in a position to introduce career opportunities to students and families across the United States. Exposure is key, and our collaborations make sure we are creating opportunities for young people and developing a sustainable industry.

What learning principle from your DVULI training are you applying in this role? 

The principle of empowerment allows me to put my team members in a position to succeed. This is the result of leadership development, which is essentially building their capacity first so I can delegate successfully. This DVULI learning principle creates balance for me and allows me to operate more effectively. Balance is also a necessity. Because I manage a company and serve as lead pastor of a church, I need to have others operating in their gifting—both in business and ministry—so I can maintain some sense of balance in life. These responsibilities do not outweigh my top priority, which is home. I am a proud father of three sons, and I’ve been happily married for 10 years to my beautiful wife. 

How can your DVULI family be praying for ConstructReach? 

Pray that we continue to meet entities whose hearts have been prepped by God to receive what ConstructReach has to offer. Pray for companies that see the need for change and are open to diversity and finding value in our formalized internship programs. You can also pray for our ability to build strategic partnerships to accomplish our goals.