The generosity of our community continues to impress me. Even when times are tough, like dealing with the aftermath of a global pandemic, our community rises to meet challenges with kindness and generosity. A perfect illustration of this is the 45 Truman Heartland Community Foundation fundholders who pooled more than $125,000 in grants from their funds to address the issue of unemployment and underemployment in Eastern Jackson County. It’s a testament to the power of a community foundation to bring like-minded individuals to the table and deliver solutions to real community problems.
The Job Skills for New Careers initiative was born out of community need. It is a collaborative effort between Truman Heartland Community Foundation, Community Services League (CSL), Mid-Continent Public Library, KC Scholars, and the University of Central Missouri. Job Skills for New Careers aims to improve the economic stability of our hard-working neighbors by providing them with a clear path to higher-paying, in-demand careers. The program offers tuition-paid industry-recognized credentials in five different career paths, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), construction/materials handling, medical coding and billing, phlebotomy, and welding. But unlike typical programs that may only provide the training classes, Job Skills for New Careers offers numerous wrap-around supports for trainees.
Even the most motivated trainee can encounter barriers to their learning. Cars break down, kids get sick, and monthly rent and utility bills just keep coming, even when you are training hard for the career of your dreams. This is where wrap-around support services come into play. With offerings like financial coaching, utilities assistance, transportation assistance, job placement, and more, trainees learn how to overcome barriers to their success.
For example, Julie didn’t have the means to buy a computer for her online training during Covid. Thankfully, the flexible funding from our Truman Heartland donors provided CSL with the resources needed to help her with a laptop so she could complete her training and get out of her dead-end job. Sharon would have had to quit her CNA training because she was not up to date on all her vaccinations and would not be allowed to finish her clinicals without them. Without health insurance, the expense of getting current was beyond her ability. So, support from Truman Heartland donors enabled CSL to pick up the tab so she could continue with her clinicals at the hospital and fulfill her dream of becoming a healthcare professional. These are just two examples of how investments in the community are bearing fruit. Job Skills for New Careers gives people a real chance at success, a chance to make positive, lasting change.
Although we are waiting for the final numbers to come in, it is anticipated that we will see that at least 150 individuals graduate from the Job Skills for New Career Program in 2021. That’s a 95 percent increase over 2020. It’s an achievement we can all be proud of. Job Skills for New Careers truly makes a positive difference in people’s lives.
We look forward to continuing to share the successes of this community-based workforce development program in the New Year. As we look to 2022, demand for this program remains high. We know we can count on continued support for this life-changing program from our donors, partners, and employers alike. If you would like more information on how to get involved as a trainee, donor, or employment partner, get in touch with us, and we’ll connect you with the right person.