Associated General Contractors to help establish construction schools across the country.

WASHINGTON - Seven new U.S. construction-oriented career academies will be established through a $235,000 grant funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Associated General Contractors of America announced.

"AGC will use these grant dollars to help train the future work force of the construction industry," said group CEO Stephen E. Sandherr. "Career academies have proven that they prepare students for the work force by integrating career and academic skills into the education process."

Through the grant, AGC will provide funding to seven of its chapters to start the schools in their communities. Each will receive more than $20,000 during the course of the three-year grant.

The Alaska chapter will work with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District to establish its academy. According to the contractors group, the Mat-Su Borough is one of the fastest-growing communities in Alaska and has demand for new construction.

The Houston chapter is working with the Houston Independent School District to establish two to six academies. Houston Community College is also committed to training teachers and helping with curriculum.

The Kentucky chapter will use the grant money to launch a career academy at the Iroquis High School Magnet Center. The academy is expected to open in 2006. The Mississippi chapter of AGC, in conjunction with the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation, will launch the first construction career academy in the state at Ridgeland High School in Jackson, Miss.

The group's Oregon-Columbia chapter will use the funds to help set up an academy at the Simon Benson Polytechnic High School, while AGC of Wisconsin will team up with Burlington High School to develop an academy in southeastern Wisconsin. And the Nebraska Chapter of AGC is currently working with the Omaha Public Schools Career Center.