Professional News

Construction Diversity Accelerator program back for 3rd year, now accepting applications

A photo from CDA's graduation.
A photo from CDA's graduation. Photo by Quisha Ray Photography.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 7, 2023) — The University of Kentucky and Turner Construction, in collaboration with Kentucky Apex Accelerator, is once again accepting applications for the third cohort of the Construction Diversity Accelerator (CDA) program. Classes begin March 5, 2024.

The CDA program, which began last year, is a 10-week program "designed to give minority-owned, women-owned and other underrepresented construction-related businesses the skills and tools needed to be competitive in the construction industry."

‘’The CDA is an important part of UK’s overall supplier diversity and DEI strategy," Barry Swanson, UK's chief procurement officer, said. "Identifying qualified businesses, providing education and resources and connecting them with meaningful business opportunities is what our supplier diversity program is designed to achieve."

“By supporting underrepresented businesses and helping them thrive, the CDA program contributes to the overall economic growth and prosperity of the region. The goal is for these businesses to gain more work, create jobs, give back to their communities and create generational wealth,” said Marilyn Clark, the supplier diversity manager for UK.

The CDA program covers important topics like safety, site logistics, insurance, bonding, contracts, subcontracting, construction drawings and specifications, estimating, scheduling, bid and proposal preparation, construction accounting, certification and more. The program culminates in a mock bid project that calls on teams to present their proposals in front of a panel of expert evaluators. This weekly program will help businesses gain hands-on, experiential learning.

“We understand that in order to achieve greater equity and inclusion within our industry, we must proactively create ways for underrepresented firms to access business-building opportunities. We are looking forward to another year of the program and the enhancements we are putting in place to make an even greater impact. Kudos to Marilyn and her team at UK as well as the staff at KY Apex Accelerator for helping to activate our shared vision of creating a more intentionally inclusive economic ecosystem,” said Kristen Smitherman-Voltaire, community and citizenship manager at Turner.

The application deadline for the 2024 program is Jan. 26, 2024, however spots are limited. The application can be found 2024 Application Invitation.pdf  Acceptance into the 2024 program will be communicated via the email address provided in the application.

Former program participant and owner of the ARGC Construction Group, Alisia Richardson, had this to say about the program, “I have benefited from the UK/Turner construction CDA program in several ways. I was able to meet owners and leaders of other minority companies. I was able to collaborate with a group of contractors that are passionate about being successful in the construction industry. Lastly, but most importantly I was able to learn about contractor ethics and get answers to questions that I have been asking since I opened up my company in 2020.”

Classes will meet each week from 6-8 p.m. beginning March 5, 2024, and will take place at UK.

“Our partnership with UK and Turner Construction aims to foster an inclusive and collaborative environment where our teams, clients and community members can participate and work together to increase equity and diversity in contracting,” said Nancy Brown, executive director of Kentucky Apex Accelerator.

Find opportunities with UK here.

Learn more about Turner here.

Learn more about Kentucky Apex Accelerator consulting and training events here.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.