The Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory’s (PWBF) Sail program is a year-round apprenticeship program for middle-school youth in sail making and small-boat sailing. Using the art and science of these disciplines as the framework, the program fostered physical and emotional health among participants, weaving social-emotional learning (SEL) activities into daily engagement and weekly workshops helping participants to succeed in high school and beyond. In addition to preparing young people for more successful trajectories, PWBF – via its Sail program and other maritime craft and environmental apprenticeships – sought to foster youth leadership within the communities they serve.
Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory (PWBF) was founded in 1996 to provide high-school youth at risk of dropping out opportunities to re-engage in learning through hands-on, traditional wooden boat building. PWBF now provides low-income youth ages 12-21 with year-round, out-of-school-time apprenticeships in wooden boat building, sail making, and sailing (Boat, Build and Sail) as well as environmental science and stewardship (RiverGuides). PWBF works to foster positive self-image and a sense of personal agency among its participants, knowing that how youth think about themselves is profoundly influential on their potential for success.