Earth Month 2023: Spotlight on Webcor’s Community Engagement Initiatives

Webcor's committed to effecting positive change through local job creation, impactful community service work, and practice of sustainable habits.

April 28, 2023


Construction generally comes with its fair share of complaints—complaints of excess noise, traffic disruptions, air pollution; the list goes on. As a general contractor that prides itself on uplifting our communities, it’s imperative that Webcor commit to effecting positive change in our neighborhoods through local job creation, impactful community service work, and practice of sustainable habits. After all, Community is one of the five core values guiding our everyday decisions on project sites and corporate offices, regardless of how substantial or trivial that decision may seem.  

“The choice to positively or negatively impact our communities throughout the construction process is on us,” says Sustainability Director Sarah Rege. “We need to think about how we’re going to minimize neighborhood disruption and other negative consequences of construction, such as our impact on local businesses and air quality, e.g. avoid idling our vehicles for a prolonged period  to reduce emissions in our neighborhoods. These actions are integral to being seen as high-quality community members and good neighbors as we deliver projects. And that’s in addition to our local workforce engagement efforts—hiring local businesses and craft professionals on our projects as much as we can.”

Hiring within our local communities is a prime example of the intersection between sustainability and community engagement, Sarah says. Beyond the obvious benefit of cutting workers’ commute times (and in turn, the environmental and economic consequences of doing so), the advantages of local hiring will inevitably reflect in the quality of the final product. Local workers will be far more inclined than non-local workers to pour their energy into a structure that will influence their own communities— a structure that they themselves may utilize and pass every day on their commutes; one that will affect their kids’ futures and serve their neighbors for decades to come. They’ll be driven to build something they can truly be proud of in a way that someone commuting to the project site from a different county would not.

“We want the projects we build to be a well-loved member of the community,” Sarah continues. “We want local residents to feel good about it and view it as a quality addition to their community. History has shown us that buildings considered high-quality and important are the ones that are well-taken care of by community members. When community members keep their eyes on it and care enough to maintain it over time, they protect it far more effectively than security cameras or any other tool ever could.”

Read on to learn how two Webcor project teams have come to exemplify our Community core value and the substantial community engagement initiatives they’ve integrated into their responsibilities:

Biosolids Digester Facilities Project (BDFP)

Local Neighborhood Hiring Program

As a public project falling under the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), BDFP is required to comply with the Office of Economic & Workforce Development’s (OEWD) mandatory Local Hire Policy. The policy’s purpose is to ensure that:

  • 30 percent of each trade’s total work hours are performed by San Francisco residents
  • 50 percent of total apprentice hours are performed by City & County of San Francisco (CCSF) residents

Meshawn Despanie, a member of Laborer Local 261, was hired by Webcor Concrete as a laborer after completing a job readiness training program with Young Community Developers.

In an ambitious move demonstrating the MWH/Webcor JV’s steadfast commitment to enriching the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood (where BDFP is located), the JV team decided to take SFPUC’s local hiring initiative a step further by establishing additional hyper-local hiring goals:

  • 15 percent of each trade’s total work hours will be performed by SF residents within the 94124, 94134, and 94107 neighborhoods, i.e. half of the mandatory SF residents performing each trade’s total work hours will reside within the aforementioned zip codes, which immediately surround the BDFP
  • 25 percent of total apprentice workhours will be performed by residents within San Francisco’s District 10, i.e. half of the apprentice hours performed by CCSF residents will be delivered by residents within District 10—the district within which BDFP is located

Local Food Empowerment Market

As part of BDFP’s outreach to local community-based organizations (CBOs), the MWH/Webcor JV team has partnered with Bayview Senior Center on building a community food pantry that will feed residents battling food insecurity—particularly senior-age residents—within Bayview-Hunter’s Point. The vast majority of Bayview-Hunters Point is considered a food desert as defined by the US Department of Agriculture: “a low-income census tract where a substantial share of residents does not have easy access to a supermarket or large grocery store.”

The MWH/Webcor JV team plans to involve Webcor Craft and project trade partners with this vital project for the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, which aligns with the team’s commitment to contributing 28,000 volunteers hours to the local community over the course of the project’s 8-year construction period. The team estimates that project management and Webcor Craft groups will devote about 300 volunteer hours to the project, which will involve constructing the interior of an existing building and transforming it into the food pantry.

“We’re a long way off from reaching our volunteer commitment of  28,000 hours, but it will be well worth the effort,” Rowena says. “The Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood will feel the impact of our community service long after we’ve left the project.”

Learn more about the BDFP on the project’s Instagram and LinkedIn pages.

Cosm at Hollywood Park

ACE Mentor Program

Last fall, Outreach and Partnerships Manager Sharla Sullivan connected Webcor’s Hollywood Park Ph. 1 and Cosm teams with AECOM representatives from the AECOM-Hunt Turner JV delivering the Hollywood Park-adjacent Clippers’ arena. Sharla, who’s served as team lead for the ACE Mentor Program’s Oakland chapter for over a decade, had met participating AECOM team members at an ACE Los Angeles/Orange County Mentor mixer the previous summer. Together, they discussed ways Webcor’s neighboring Hollywood Park/Cosm teams could support their partnership with ACE at City Honors High School, a charter school conveniently located near both projects in LA’s Inglewood neighborhood. The growing ACE team, which already included volunteers from Inglewood design firm AERO Collective in addition to AECOM, was eager to welcome a few Webcorians to the group, which had partnered specifically with a City Honors after-school program designed to inspire students to pursue careers in the AEC/skilled trades industries.

Upon Sharla’s introduction, Webcor Sr. Project Manager Robert Hackl, Sr. Project Manager Graciela Santillan, and Sr. Project Engineer Tori Hertz jumped at the opportunity to get involved. They joined their fellow AECOM and AERO Collective volunteers at City Honors’ informational meetings on career paths in the AEC industry and in hands-on classroom activities, such as building structures out of paper strips and paper clips, to familiarize the students with construction basics.

“Thanks to the dedication of ACE’s mentors/staff and local schools, thousands of students—many of which are underrepresented in the AEC industry—have been given the opportunity to explore the building, design, and construction industry,” Robert says. “Without targeted mentorship programs like ACE, these students could easily miss out on crucial exposure to the world of construction.”

Since then, Robert, Tori, and Graciela have also partnered with Loyola Marymount University’s (LMU) various engineering departments to network with students and professors studying electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering departments.

“We’ve joined a few ACE Mentor events at LMU’s lecture halls and engineering labs,” Robert says. “The students have really excelled and enjoyed participating in our thoughtfully planned hands-on activities. The entire experience has helped me grow as a mentor and contribute more to the ACE Mentor Program.”

In February, Robert, Graciela, and Tori attended the ACE Spotlight Awards in Long Beach to show their continued support for ACE’s LA chapter.

“Many ACE alumni remain active in the program through the scholarships they receive, relationships they develop with their mentors, and future employment opportunities they gain through ACE, such as internships and postgrad jobs,” Robert says. “It’s an extremely valuable, life-changing program that’s well worth Webcor’s continued partnership!”

Webcorians across all company regions are currently serving as ACE mentors, team leads, and board members. Click here to learn how you can get involved with the ACE Mentor Program!

Earth Day Community Service Events

NorCal – Ploughshares Nursery

Our NorCal Earth Month event supported Ploughshares Nursery, a full-scale nursery and social enterprise of the Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) supportive housing community. Ploughshares trains and employs about 500 APC residents, and 100 percent of its sales support APC housing for formerly homeless families. Additionally, all of Ploughshares’ products help protect the environment and use recycled materials whenever possible.

NorCal Webcorians spent a gorgeous, sunny day at Ploughshares weeding a ~400-square-foot patch of land for future planting/use before taking a tour of the APC-operated farm, during which they got the chance to interact with a few of the farm’s chickens and pigs.



“This was a great opportunity to contribute to APC’s nursey operations in a hands-on way and support APC’s mission to combat homelessness and help formerly homeless families,” says Sustainability Manager Kavita Karmarkar. “Group volunteer events like these greatly impact our local communities. It was a perfect way to celebrate Earth Month together!”

Webcor participants included: Project Engineer Maggie Torpey-Murray; Project Engineer Lia Milam; Sr. Project Engineer Kristina Reyna; Project Engineer Niki Blinov; Project Director, Design David Mulvey; Project Engineer Nicole Zepeda; Sr. Project Manager James Siebert; Sr. Project Manager, Concrete Mitch Yoffe; Sr. Project Coordinator, Concrete Yvonne Ling, Sr. Executive Assistant Darlene O’Donnell; Office Assistant Sarai Garcia, Payroll Administrator Divina Lemus; and Kavita.

SoCal – Beach Clean-up at Santa Monica Pier

One of the many draws of Southern California is its proximity to some of the country’s most scenic, breathtaking beaches. Underneath the natural beauty of the Pacific Ocean, however, thousands of marina animals have suffered at the hands of human-caused pollution, including sea turtles, sea birds, and marine mammals.

On April 21, 13 Webcorians met at LA’s Santa Monica Pier for a much-needed beach clean-up. “Beach clean-ups are vital to mitigating the dangers ocean debris and pollution pose to marine life,” Sarah says. “For Earth Month, we wanted to positively impact our larger community and felt the beach was an important place to put our efforts.”

Equipped with plenty of trash-grabbers and large trash bags, Webcorians collected trash items as large as a boot and as small as a cigarette butt that had been discarded along the beach and surrounding areas. By the end of the event, they’d collected about 30 pounds of trash!

Webcor participants included: Assistant Design Manager April Chang; Sr. Project Engineer George Shamryla; Project Engineer Yash Kansal; Project Director Aaron Case; Sr. Project Manager Graciela Santillan; VDC Director Liem Tran; Project Director, Design Franco Marinaro; Assistant Project Manager Israel Cruz, Project Manager Cody Curran, Project Director Cicely Rice; Assistant Project Manager Aditya Shah; Kavita; and Sarah.