The 2021 Habitat Builders Academy is creating a positive ripple effect in Canton. Because of this community-focused program, students are earning money and learning important skills, a small business is experiencing growth, and countless individuals are strengthening Stark.

The 2021 Habitat Builders Academy is a paid summer internship program for local high school and college students offered by Habitat for Humanity East Central Ohio and funded by the cities of Canton and Massillon. 


From June 1 through Aug. 14, the 23 students in the Builders Academy are working 30 hours per week and earning $12/hour as they learn valuable building skills alongside the Habitat staff on construction sites; work in a construction warehouse; and hone their customer service skills at the Habitat ReStore. 

As part of their workweek, students also spend time with a Canton City Schools teacher to catch up on any schoolwork that was affected by the pandemic and prepare for the upcoming school year. The Builders Academy program also includes guest speakers so students can learn about important personal development topics such as mentorship, leadership and financial literacy.


When creating the program, Habitat decided to provide daily lunches for the students and give the steady business to a local restaurant. Thanks to Habitat’s intentionality, students in the Builders Academy receive healthy lunches from Deli Ohio, a family-owned sandwich shop in downtown Canton. The four lunches per week for the students at Habitat enabled Deli Ohio to hire an additional summer employee – a job the co-owner said wouldn’t have been created if it weren’t for this partnership.


“Thanks to the Habitat Builders Academy and the faith Habitat for Humanity East Central Ohio put in Deli Ohio, we were able to hire a summertime employee that otherwise we did not have the staffing budget for,” Deli Ohio co-owner Ryan Miller said. “In addition to fulfilling the daily lunch order for the Habitat Builders Academy, our summertime employee was also essential in helping Deli Ohio reopen our dining room in a post-COVID world, which took additional planning and resources that was different than operating a dining room before COVID. We feel extremely thankful that we are able to provide a healthy, locally sourced meal for all participants and help keep the money in our local community."

While the Habitat Builders Academy is only 11 weeks long, we are confident the meaningful impact it is creating in our community will be long-lasting.