Workforce Development #SpotlightOnCLT
Let’s get to work, Charlotte!
What does it mean to be part of workforce development for yourself or for our collective community as a whole?
Developing essential components of a community's economic climate, like where your workforce comes from and how you prepare it for the future, can start as young as school-age programming and can progress all the way up to adult training and education for specific skill sets. It requires a deep coordination of public and private policies and programs, providing individuals with the opportunity to develop a sustained livelihood, and helps organizations achieve social responsibility goals.
At SHARE Charlotte, we strive each month to shine a big spotlight on the crucial work being done by local nonprofits. This month we're sharing about Workforce Development. Below, we’ve highlighted a few of our nonprofits doing the GOOD WORK.
Here's how you can get involved:
- Read and SHARE this story. It’s chock full of inspiring narratives and incredible programs happening right here in our neighborhoods.
- Search our Workforce Cause Filter and see a comprehensive list of nonprofits supporting this community.
- Follow along with us on social media over the next few weeks for our #SpotlightOnCLT series!
- Click the links below to learn more about these nonprofits.
Community Culinary School of Charlotte (CCSC) was founded in 1997 to help adults with barriers to employment (including history of incarceration and addiction, lack of skills, homelessness, and veterans’ reintegration issues) and trains them in the skills they need to get and keep good-paying ($15+/hour) jobs in the hospitality industry in Charlotte, NC. CCSC offers 14-week training sessions 3 times a year to students from the Charlotte region and does not charge students tuition.
They encourage students to craft their own path for success, from developing their own recipes and inventing new baked goods and sauces to articulating their view for what success will look like for them after graduation. CCSC facilitates relationships with employers, but encourages students and alumni to be proactive when pursuing jobs they want. If a student dreams of owning their own baking business or food truck, they can match them with mentors and resources who can help them apply for a loan or license to facilitate that dream.
Hear Bobby’s Story: “I was a mess, but God took me and made me a message.” He is a graduate of the Anuvia Prevention and Recovery Center program in Charlotte, NC and is putting God and cooking at the center of his recovery. He is looking forward to taking what he learned at CCSC and applying it to what he already knows to make him successful. After graduation, Bobby plans to attend Central Piedmont Community College to obtain a degree in business management, followed by getting all the necessary credentials and permits needed to start a food truck. He says his food truck will focus on soul food and desserts.
Goodwill has been serving the Southern Piedmont region of North and South Carolina since 1965. What started as an organization to help people find work has grown into an invaluable community partner that offers so much more, including skills training in advanced IT, customer service, construction and Microsoft Office, career counseling, employment tools and resources, financial literacy, and community partnerships. These programs are available to anyone in the community looking for opportunities to grow and achieve more – offered at no cost thanks to donations and purchases from the community. Working to uncover possibilities and remove obstacles to goal fulfillment, Goodwill is changing family legacies, helping uncover their passions, enhance their skill sets, and achieve more for themselves and their families—creating a brighter future for all.
Colette’s Story: Today, Colette Simmons works as a billing specialist for Spectrum, a job she loves. The former educator worked as a math teacher for 20 years before retiring and working as a daycare worker, a job she quit in the pandemic over her fears of contracting the virus. While unemployed, Colette was referred to Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. Through Goodwill University, Goodwill’s job training division, Colette was able to take the Customer Service Experience and Microsoft Essentials for Business courses virtually, which helped her advance her skills.
In addition to courses, Goodwill participants also receive wraparound services. They have access to family stabilization services and are assigned a Career Navigator and Employer Engagement representative, who not only help participants find jobs, but prepare them for interviews with resume help and mock interviews. Training courses, like the one Colette took via Goodwill University, are available free of charge thanks to donations and purchases made by shoppers at Charlotte-area Goodwill retail locations.
Philips Academy thinks the whole world could learn from their school about overcoming obstacles... creating a hopeful way forward... standing on your own two feet as well as the necessity of a strong support system... the happiness of having a friend and the satisfaction of a job well done. Since 2005, Philips Academy has been all about "Real Learning For Real Life". Their curriculum is a combination of academics, job training, and social/life skills for middle and high school students with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Bridges, their post-secondary program, supports young adults to achieve independence, like finding a job, riding the bus, and cooking a meal. They explore volunteering, paid employment, and independent living. This life-centered education prepares them for adulthood.
Bethany’s Story: Bethany is a graduate of Philips Academy who completed the Bridges program in 2022. While here, she volunteered at a nursing home and two preschools, along with many other community experiences. She says "I really enjoy working in that type of environment because I feel like I could make others smile." She would like to find a job taking care of people. For now, Bethany has worked at Bojangles for about two years and is interested in education programs at CPCC I-LEAD and Winthrop University Think College.
Research shows a declining trend in the number of underserved youth who enter the STEM field. In part, this can be attributed to lack of exposure to STEM opportunities during critical years of development, ages 16-24, insufficient role models to aspire to, and limited financial resources. The cost of traditional STEM programs is unaffordable. High unemployment rates in west Charlotte are staggering. Well implemented programs such as Hack & Hustle Academy's could result in higher academic performance, improved social and communication skills, higher motivation and increased self-confidence, avoidance of risky behaviors such as alcohol and/or drug use, and a reduction in juvenile delinquency.
One of our scholars worked with us as a student teacher. He worked with our youth to help them understand topics such as how to connect the Raspberry Pi microcontroller, assemble a robot rover, and Python programming. He co-led several sessions. After graduating from Hack & Hustle Academy, he went on to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science in Cyber Security and a Master's in Cyber Security Engineering.
The mission of The Center for Community Transitions (CCT) is to strengthen our community by helping people with criminal records and their families find a healthier and more productive way of living. When employers align their interests with social service work - which includes nonprofits and the criminal justice system—the chances of successful reentry are even greater.
Lisa’s Story: Lisa spent over 15 years in prison for a $500 crime. Lisa transferred to CCT's Center for Women work release facility a little over 1 year before her release date. She found employment in the hospitality industry and was promoted twice before her release in 2022. Lisa also applied and was accepted into a reentry entrepreneurship program, where she learned the basics of starting a business. Lisa received her NC business license and officially started her business before she was released from prison! Today, Lisa is running a successful business and looking forward to giving back to women like her who are still 'behind the wall' preparing to return to the community.
Event: Art Auction for Second Chances - Volunteer here!
We know thousands of students dropout of school each year. Research maintains that the primary reason they drop out is that they do not see the relevance of the education they receive in traditional school programs. Students who do not graduate career and college ready lack the skills, exposure, connections, and social capital to experience a successful transition into post-secondary college, training & the workforce.
MeckEd addresses these critical issues by providing college and career readiness experiences (job shadows, college visits, job-site tours, internships, community building activities) to 2,000+ young adults (ages 16-21) annually in four CMS High Schools. Current sites include Garinger, Harding, Julius Chambers, and West Charlotte High Schools.
Career Pathways provides meaningful work-based learning experiences and offers exposure to a variety of post-secondary opportunities. Students in the program map out a personal and attainable pathway to a successful post-secondary transition. A Career Pathways Advisor (CPA) is placed full-time in each high school to work with the student population (approx. 500 per school). CPAs serve as social navigators and engage participants in a career-connected education, including work-based learning experiences, to pave a viable and rewarding college and/or career pathway.
CrossRoads is trying to provide access to living wage careers by partnering with organizations providing training and placement while providing stipends for program participants. Their current project involves a partnership with Beatties Ford Road Vocational Trade to enroll students in their apprenticeship program, which results in participants being prepared for and hired in skilled trades positions.
They currently have three students who completed their inaugural employee pathway program in partnership with Potions & Pixels and underwritten by Lothey’s and Hornets. CrossRoads has another five students they hope to enroll in an apprenticeship program to continue their training and job placement.
FeedNC has a culinary and warehouse workforce development program for underemployed or unemployed individuals in the community. Last year, they had 14 graduates. 100% of all graduates obtained gainful employment, and 100% of these graduates have been retained. This year, in their new facility, which will have learning classrooms, a teaching kitchen, and a warehouse, their goal is to increase the number of students served by at least 10%.
One client’s story: “In a time that was very difficult for me - dealing with an ongoing health issue while refinancing my home - the FeedNC Food Movers program (volunteers that deliver groceries to homebound individuals) and the Thanksgiving Meal delivery filled me with such spirit and joy. It meant so much to me I just wanted to reach out and say that I am doing wonderful and have finally finished refinancing my house - so I can afford my own groceries again! Hopefully, I can pay it forward sometime soon. Thank you for all you do."
The Boys to Men Foundation has provided thousands of boys aged 9 - 17 (referred through partnerships with local school districts, juvenile court systems and word of mouth) positive alternatives and a robust support network they can rely on. The mentoring program presents opportunities for enrichment, exposure, support, and guidance through group mentoring sessions led by trained volunteer mentors.
BTM’s workforce development benefits two groups: It builds character for mentees as they acquire knowledge, skills, and aptitude for gainful employment. It also benefits employers like Hendrick Automotive who participate in the apprenticeship program by providing an effective means of communication with a familiar candidate pool helping to meet their demand for stellar employees.
Jimmy’s Story: Jimmy Bryant was homeless at the age of 9 years old when he came into the Boys to Men mentoring program. He completed the Hendricks summer apprenticeship training and has now obtained gainful employment with Hendricks Automotive. He is a true success story.
Erika’s Closet provides employment services to people who are formerly incarcerated by providing career assessments/advising, job search planning, resume writing/revisions, assistance w/answering the criminal conviction question, and providing soft-skills training. They need more employers who are willing to partner with them, have the ability to provide cell phones and laptops to job seekers to aid in their job search, and be able to provide transportation assistance as well.
Ricky’s Story: Ricky served 13 years in prison and was released in 2021. He was homeless. He was referred to Erika’s Closet by a partner agency for employment services. They supported him with resume assistance, job coaching, assistance with answering the criminal conviction question on the application. They connected him to one of their partner employers from the community and accompanied him to the interview. He was hired and has been employed for over one year. He has also obtained and sustained his own housing.
TWIN aims to help minimize barriers that may prevent individuals (especially low-income) from becoming gainfully employed or barriers that may keep them from continuously expanding their skills and credentials.
TWIN’s overall mission is to support the personal and professional development of individuals because both parameters are essential to be successful in the workforce. TWIN is getting ready to kick off another training cycle for their Sustainable Environmental Training (SET) program. The SET program offers eligible applicants the opportunity to receive certifications for hazwoper40, asbestos abatement, lead paint abatement, osha10, confined space entry, and more. The best thing about it is that all the training classes are at no cost to eligible applicants. It is an opportunity to explore other career opportunities without any out-of-pocket expenses. If anyone would like to learn more about the SET Program (eligibility requirements, training offered, how to apply, etc.), they should attend an info session.
E2D recognizes there are large numbers of unfilled IT jobs in North Carolina, and they are doing their part to put our students in those positions. Some of our students would not have known these careers had existed if they had not worked at E2D. They provide professional development and specialized technological skill training to students that can be utilized directly in an IT career or in a secondary education setting. Participation in IT workforce development opens doors to economic advancement for young people beginning their careers.
One of their technology lab supervisors, Anthony Calloway Jr., who has been with them since he was in high school said the following about his E2D workforce experience : “The experience I’ve gained at E2D is better than any regular high school job I may have gotten. The tech that I learned here just in terms of working on computers, I did not know much of it. I was trained on-site about everything. I’ve actually been looking at getting an information technology degree.
One of the pillars of The Park CDC is economic mobility and will be focusing on helping community residents overcome asset poverty, particularly in female headed households; and the issues that hinder people from acquiring and sustaining assets in order to accumulate wealth.
The produce grown at Sunset Farm and shared with the local community is helping seniors to access healthy food. In addition, the intergenerational gardening and mentoring component of this program is helping to pass down valuable information and skills about agricultural practices from older experienced individuals to younger generations.
FSP’s mission is to inspire our scholars to love reading and learning, believe in themselves, and create extraordinary futures. An integral part of their summer experience is investing in the durable skills of their Servant Leader Interns where they gain meaningful experiences that help them to be competitive in the professional marketplace.
Shaconda’s Story: Shaconda has seen that Freedom School works. “I have seen the transformation of scholars to have a true foundation of learning through fun exploration and activities.” Her grandson, Kaiden has grown in just the first year of his time at Freedom School. “He has a new spark to learn. He’s ready to go over sight words now because he wants to be able to read fun books.”
Mission: To empower area youth by providing life skills workshops, promote continued education and provide educational and financial assistance for future employment skills and entrepreneurial success. Scholarships are given annually to support students pursuing higher education as a barber or stylist, and sponsor students in Title I schools.
70% of blind/low vision adults are unemployed. Currently there are 16,000 people who are blind/low vision living in Mecklenburg County. Lions Services is working hard to change those statistics and create more jobs for the blind community.
Lions Services currently produces military textile apparel for the US troops. They are getting ready to launch a hand soap line that the community can purchase for home and for commercial office use. This new work department through mechanical devices will be fully operated by people who are blind and have low vision, including blind veterans helping us to fulfill our mission. Soap will be available for sale on our website and the Share Charlotte page soon.
Barney’s Story: Barney came to Lions Services, 41 years ago after he lost his sight. During that time Barney lost all hope and did not know what he would do with the rest of his life. After gaining employment at Lions Services as a machine operator, Barney gained back his confidence, became independent, bought his own home, and a truck to have his family drive him around.
GenerationNation develops a new generation of civic leaders who understand how their community works, are aware of local issues and how to engage in creating solutions, and have opportunities to build knowledge, leadership, and social capital for success now and into college, career, and civic life. Students need more opportunities to explore public service careers.
High school students lead meetings with peers from across the community and with school, government, and business leaders in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Youth Council; serve on boards, including the CMS Board of Education and GenerationNation Board of Directors; build civic leadership in Youth Lead Charlotte-Mecklenburg; and more. Youth build important skills and networks that support workforce development.
In today's society, construction and energy companies are booming, many skilled trades workers are at or near the retirement age, and the never ending emphasis for young people to go to college has finally caught up with us. Through their Levels of Leadership Initiative Men of Destiny is able to raise awareness, provide exposure, provide social emotional intelligence, soft skills, and leadership training to youth.
Through their Collaboration over Competition efforts they are one of 13 organizations in the State of North Carolina selected for the Our State, Our Work, a two-year collaborative learning model coordinated by ncIMPACT Initiative and the first program of UNC-CH’s Carolina Across 100 Initiative.
Danny’s Story: After losing his dream job working under a Michelin-star chef, Danny Braddy of Mecklenburg knew that he needed to find new opportunities to provide for his wife and child. After connecting with Men of Destiny, he completed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-10 certification and began heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and facilities maintenance training. He shared that after becoming unemployed during the pandemic, it was hard to imagine doing anything other than what he was used to. However, Men of Destiny opened his eyes to new opportunities and avenues to provide for his family.
ZABS Place is a non-profit thrift boutique in Matthews, NC that trains and employs young adults with special talents to help them realize their potential. They focus on making career dreams come true for young adults with disabilities. ZABS’ envisions a community where young adults with special needs can transition from high school to the adult working world with dignity.
Carter’s Story: Meet Carter, a young man with Autism whose dream has always been to work at the Nascar Hall of Fame. Carter struggles with making eye contact and socializing is challenging for him so it's not surprising that job interviews are not where he excels. Carter joined the Job Training program at ZABS Place and practiced a variety of skills. Larry Sprinkle did a feature story on ZABS Place. Noticing Carter hard at work, Larry asks him what his dream job is. Without hesitation Carter answers "I want to work at the Nascar Hall of Fame and I'm sure the skills I'm learning at ZABS Place will help me be successful there.” Without skipping a beat, Larry looks into the TV cameras and says, "Do you hear that Nascar Hall of Fame? Here's your next employee!” Not long after the piece aired Carter got an email from the Nascar Hall of Fame inviting him for a tour and an interview! Carter is now transitioning from a ZABS Place Trainee to a paid employee of the Nascar Hall of Fame.
At A2S they are working to bridge the gap between higher education and the workforce through their Entrepreneur Empowerment Program (EEP). Their team in Nigeria alongside a team of mentors from Nigeria and the U.S. are encouraging local entrepreneurs to pursue unique and viable business ideas.
A2S currently has two scholars studying at High Schools in the Charlotte area and 5 additional scholars studying at universities in the U.S. In Nigeria they have 240 children in their After School Academy, 250 entrepreneurs in our Entrepreneur Empowerment Program, 68 Scholars at Nigerian universities, and reach over 10,000 individuals living in extreme poverty each year through their Community Outreach Program.
Kenneth’s Story: Kenneth is the founder and CEO of "Le Kingfisha", a catfish farming and production company. The final product they sell is smoked catfish. Kenneth started with just one pool of fish in his backyard. He entered A2S’ pitch competition in 2018 and won. After 6 months of mentorship with a Nigerian business leader and a manager at Google, Le Kingfisha received a zero interest loan from A2S. Kenneth now has a team of 5 employees that manage 14 ponds. His business created new jobs in the community and fills a need for nutritious and affordable protein. Kenneth has served as a pitch competition judge and mentor to new businesses in the A2S program.
A2S is hosting a shoe drive and fundraiser at the Davidson Men's Basketball game on February 18th. Join them for the "Hoops for Hope" game and support their upcoming basketball camp in Nigeria this April!
Housing Collab’s primary focus within workforce development is providing fair chance employment opportunities for people who have experienced barriers to housing and jobs. They believe people with lived experience can use their journeys to help others overcome barriers to secure housing.
Housing Collaborative makes affordable housing easier to navigate. They provide hands-on housing placement assistance for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, including people connected with rental subsidies programs. They also recruit and support housing providers willing to work with program-connected tenants, and they facilitate access to housing by coordinating any required housing inspections and pulling together financial assistance to cover upfront housing costs.
Housing Collab recently played a part in helping two different people secure housing who were previously unsheltered. One person had been living in a crawlspace for several months, and the other person had been sleeping outside. They were able to find affordable one-bedroom units for both of them in partnership with RunningWorks. Housing Collaborative found the units and provided funds for upfront housing costs, and RunningWorks secured furniture and helped support both of the tenants with maintaining employment and connections to resources, among other things.
Many Latinos in the U.S. once held professional jobs in their home countries (doctors, lawyers, chemists, etc.), but when they come to the U.S., their credentials don’t transfer over, and they end up working in jobs that they’re overqualified for (cleaning services, restaurants, physical labor, etc.). We help them get their proper credentials so they can get back into their professions.
Arriba, Camino’s bilingual workforce development program, operates with the mission of equipping people to live productive lives. Arriba’s programs focus on employment readiness and increasing access to educational and employment opportunities. Arriba works with individuals to overcome barriers to employment or underemployment, with bilingual programs for resume building, interviewing, job readiness skills, ESL classes, and a bilingual GED testing and preparation program. Arriba holds regular workshops on financial education, including building credit, understanding how to file taxes, and steps toward home ownership. Arriba also partners with employers through job fairs and programs to recruit, train, and hire people seeking to build careers.
Martha's Story: Martha is a single mother who moved here from Panama to fulfill her American dream. She spent several years cleaning houses but after connecting with Arriba, Martha is now a supervisor in a local factory. She recently purchased a home for her and her family. Martha is currently enrolled in ESL classes on our Camino campus and will start in our computer program next month.
Check out this event on March 25th: 12pm-3pm: “Discover your Path”: A student fair, in partnership with CMS, for Latino high school and middle school students to explore educational opportunities and resources that are available, empowering students and families. We will host representatives from universities, community colleges, vocational schools, and technical career opportunities. Breakout sessions will provide information on scholarships and student financing.