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2 R.I. nonprofits awarded $360K
from LISC R.I. and Citi Foundation
PROVIDENCE – Two local nonprofits, the Genesis Center and Amos House, have been awarded a combined $360,000 from the Citi Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. Rhode Island, the organizations announced Wednesday.
The funding comes from the Bridges to Careers Opportunities Initiative, which helps connect unemployed and underemployed people to find jobs in growth industries.
The program is expected to impact about 500 workers in Providence. The funds will be dispersed over three years. Nationally, Citi Foundation has committed $10 million to 40 organizations through the Bridges program.
“Our No. 1 priority is to strengthen our community,” stated Shannon Carroll, president and CEO of the Genesis Center. “We do that by investing in our greatest resource: our people. We are thrilled that the Citi Foundation and LISC recognize this and are providing funds that will allow us to expand our training programs and support services to reach more of our residents – especially some of our most vulnerable community members – so that they may increase their access to education, good jobs and living wages.”
· Amos House will use $190,000 in funds to expand its training services, focusing on people who are formerly homeless or overcoming challenges such as substance abuse.
· The Genesis Center will use $170,000 in funds to grow its support for job seekers in fields such as culinary arts, human services, early learning, and health care.
“Our partners at Amos House and Genesis Center have built track records that demonstrate what works to connect people to economic opportunity,” stated Jeanne Cola, executive director of LISC Rhode Island. “When we help someone find a good – or better – job, we help both families and communities thrive.”
Initiative Backed by $300,000 RIDLT Grant, Supported by Employer & Training Partners from Across the State
PROVIDENCE, RI – Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza today joined the City’s Economic Opportunity Director Brian Hull, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) Director Scott Jensen, and representatives from Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston, Care New England, Lifespan Corporation, and Genesis Center at the Simulation Center at Woman & Infants Hospital to announce PVD HealthWorks. The workforce partnership is made possible with a $300,000 Real Jobs RI grant from RIDLT and will strengthen Providence’s healthcare and social assistance workforce by connecting participants to workforce training, resources and employment opportunities.
“Healthcare is one of the largest industries in Rhode Island,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “This initiative will strengthen our workforce by providing pathways to good jobs for residents. This partnership will help us continue to provide economic opportunities for residents throughout our city.”
Real Jobs RI is a demand-driven, workforce and economic development initiative that convenes industry employers, key stakeholders and groups in allied partnerships to address business workforce demands. It is designed to ensure that Rhode Island employers have the talent they need to compete and grow while providing targeted education and skills training for Rhode Island workers.
“Real Jobs RI is showing that we can invest in workers and employers at the same time — because competitive companies employing workers who are on a solid pathway to middle-class wages are the keystones of a strong and resilient economy,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “With 81,000 workers and some of Rhode Island’s largest employers, healthcare is a critical component of our economy. I’m proud to partner with Mayor Elorza to help healthcare employers get the talent they need to grow and compete.”
The Healthcare and Social Assistance industry is one of the largest employment sectors in the State and is the largest employer within the City of Providence. The sector has been affected by a documented labor shortage as well as a growing mismatch between workforce preparedness and the changing skills that will be required as the healthcare sector adapts to changing demographics and service delivery. Healthcare employers from across Rhode Island have underscored a large number of open positions for many occupations, including medical assistants, direct support professionals, and pharmacy technicians.
“Real Jobs RI helps employers train the right workers for the right jobs at the right time and the PVD HealthWorks partnership has all of the workforce development pieces in place to do just that for the healthcare sector of our capital city,” said DLT Director Scott Jensen. “Governor Raimondo and I are excited to work alongside Mayor Elorza and the employers of Rhode Island’s biggest sector to strategically connect partners around shared needs and match skilled healthcare and social assistance professionals with employers looking for top talent.”
There are additional challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified candidates, especially diverse, bi-cultural and bi-lingual. The City has convened a collaboration of eight employer partners and eight community partners to develop the infrastructure necessary to understand the workforce needs of the employers and create strategic pipelines to generate a supply of highly qualified candidates for high demand positions.
PVD HealthWorks will strategically connect partners around shared needs and actively foster system solutions. It will create a unified intake and assessment process and toolbox for job seekers and will realize the hiring of a dedicated specialist with expertise in healthcare industries to partner with employers and training providers to increase participant recruitment and job placement. An online pre-registration portal will also be launched to allow job seekers to pre-register for job fairs, providing employers the ability to pre-screen applicants and identify potential employees more efficiently.
“We are eager to support workforce development in the City of Providence by collaborating to create a training pipeline for health care providers driven by industry demand,” said Jody Jencks, director of workforce development for Care New England. “We understand the need for a demand-driven, employer-led system that elevates the skills of the workforce while adapting to employer needs.”
Insight from training partners and a survey of medical assistant training programs in the state and near the Massachusetts border also revealed that that there is a wide variance in the skills and knowledge taught by different programs, resulting in candidates lacking key competencies for open positions. Employers are seeking a greater level of consistency and quality through this initiative.
“This is the type of program we have been waiting for! PVD Healthworks is one more step in the right direction for workforce development,” said Shannon Carroll, Genesis Center President and Chief Executive Officer. “We need a coordinated system to create clear career pathways and opportunities for our residents. As a Real Pathways provider, we are now able to purposely and effectively link our existing healthcare training programs to higher level trainings that will allow our learners to progress on their career paths and access higher wage jobs while also providing employers with the candidates they need. I am confident PVD Healthworks will help accomplish this and make Rhode Island stronger.”
The partnership will match qualified professionals with employers facing workforce hiring challenges. The first phase of the program funds three cohorts of Direct Support and one cohort of Medical Assistant training for a total of 65 newly trained healthcare workers. Curricula for these training programs will align with employer defined needs and the partnership will invest in the development of additional training modules to address common skill gaps.
Additional PVD HealthWorks partners include First Source Providence, CVS Health, Providence Community Health Center, Groden Network, ReFocus, CareLink, Comprehensive Community Action Program, Rhode Island College—Institute for Education in Healthcare, Apprenticeship RI, Community College of Rhode Island, Skills for Rhode Island’s Future, RI Nurses Institute Middle College, and Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. The partnership will continue to engage new employer partners and convene stakeholders in various ways to identify workforce needs and solutions in the healthcare sector.
My name is Adry Mijares, and I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. When I graduated from high school, I enrolled at Venezuela Central University where I obtained Bachelor Degrees in Biology and Education. I used to leave my house to go to university around 4:30 am and I arrived at home around 8:00 at night. Then, I had to study do my homework and get ready for my next day's class. It was very difficult for me and a lot of effort to achieve my goals, but it was worth all of the hard work.
I worked at a lab as a microbiologist for a year, and then I moved on to another job closer to my house with better pay. Meanwhile, I met Pablo Mijares on one of his trips to visit his family. Our friendship became a romantic relationship; years later, he proposed to me, and I immediately said yes. But there was an issue; he lived in the USA, and I lived in Venezuela. At first, I didn't want to come to the USA because I didn’t want to leave my family behind. But then, love was stronger, so I came to the USA and we got married.
Rhode Island was very different, in everything from the language to the weather. I wanted to be productive in this country, but the language barrier was an obstacle. I found Genesis Center, which opened their doors to me, and I enrolled in ESOL classes. My teachers, Bonnie Taylor and Sheryl Buchanan, made me feel very comfortable. Classes were hard, but I learned a lot. I felt more confident because I was fluent in speaking, writing and listening in English, which motivated me to think about getting a job.
I noticed that Genesis Center was offering a Medical Assistant Training Course. When I first applied, I was not accepted because I was not very well prepared for the interview. I continued studying to better myself, and when I applied a second time, I was accepted. My teacher, Gienia Kocur, did a fantastic job teaching us the entire spectrum of skills to be an efficient and productive Medical Assistant. Workforce Coordinator Liz Hanke was also very influential in job preparation, guiding us in how, where and when to look for a job. Gienia, Liz and Cindy Alvarado helped me to get an internship at Roger Williams Medical Associates, a CharterCARE group in East Providence, where I did all of my internship hours in a month.
When I completed the program, I got a job interview at St. Joseph’s Health Center in Providence; days later, they hired me, and I am still working there as a Medical Assistant. The interviewer told me that my internship supervisor had fantastic things to say about my job performance, and that I came highly recommended. I am very grateful for the support of the staff and teachers at Genesis Center. Genesis Center changed my life because once again, I can feel productive and help to better the lives of others.
Posted: Friday, October 7, 2016 12:05 am
Sheryl Buchanan, adult learning facilitator and evening coordinator at Genesis Center, was recently named the 2016 Outstanding Adult Educator of the Year by the Rhode Island Department of Education, based on her commitment to adult education, the teaching profession and her impact on student outcomes.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in education?
Teaching chose me. I have ventured into other fields but always wind up teaching. The classroom is where I feel valuable, and valued.
A wonderful experience with my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Findlay, inspired me to pursue teaching. She was strict but passionate. She found ways to teach me concepts that no other teacher could. I saw and felt that she cared for her students.
What, in your opinion, constitutes a good teacher?
A good teacher has multifaceted skills, is highly motivated and determined, and genuinely wants the best for her students; she is creative and passionate about making a difference in the lives of each student. Beyond having a wide cadre of knowledge, a good teacher knows where to source information; a good teacher listens and communicates; she entertains and has a good sense of humor.
Are there any challenges unique to teaching adults?
Yes. As all of us in adult education know, working in an adult center means being flexible and empathetic to needs and challenges that are different from those faced by educators of children and young adults. For example, losing a student to employment or because of a childbirth is bittersweet. My pet peeve is a change in a student's work schedule that causes the student to have to drop the class – seeing a student's potential, knowing you can harness it and help that student realize it, believing with all your heart and soul that if they continue, they will succeed – and then watching them get cut off from that.
What is most rewarding about your job at Genesis Center?
Being a learning facilitator by day and a coordinator in the evening gives me the unique opportunity to interact with most of the students at Genesis Center. •
Providence, RI - Genesis Center announced today that it has received a $49,000 strategy grant from the Rhode Island Foundation to support programming that prepares low-income Rhode Islanders for success in the workforce.
"This generous grant will expand education and training services that provide a 'bridge' to help unemployed and underemployed Rhode Islanders overcome the skills gap. Participants in our adult education and job training programs will now have access to a program designed to help them progress toward their goal of finding a better job in a career pathway,” said Shannon Carroll, president and CEO.
"Our Bridge class provides resources and guidance to adults who are working to achieve economic independence. This grant helps us to broaden the services available to learners and allows Genesis Center to be the place ‘where the will to achieve meets the skill to succeed,’" she said.
The 3-part strategy project will expand the center's existing basic education program, which is a hybrid in-person and online system for adults working to improve their education.
Participants will have access to a qualified instructor as well as online learning tools and industry-recognized certificates. It will also expand contextualized basic education opportunities for participants in the center’s job training programs to build critical thinking skills and develop the math and literacy necessary for success in employment and continued education. The initiative includes goals for sharing the center’s learning with other adult education and workforce development service providers.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2015, the Foundation awarded $41.5 million in grants to organizations addressing the state's most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities.
"Every grant we make underscores our commitment to moving Rhode Island forward. We work closely with our donors and grantees to ensure there are the resources and the resourcefulness to achieve great impact," said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation's president and CEO.
Genesis Center, founded 34 years ago in Providence's West End, is a multi-service organization offering high-quality adult education, job training, support services and early learning for low-income Rhode Islanders who want to make a better life for themselves and their families. Today, it serves more than 800 adults and children every year from more than 35 countries. For more information, visit www.gencenter.org.
Sheryl Buchanan, one of our outstanding learning facilitators, has received this exciting honor from the Rhode Island Department of Education.