Tackling the Westside’s Wage Gap Through Holistic Vocational Training
Note from by John Ahmann, President & CEO, Westside Future Fund
This week, I am continuing our series highlighting some of the Westside-based community partners who are beneficiaries of the upcoming Beloved Benefit with a guest column from Bruce Deel, Founder and CEO of the City of Refuge (CoR).
Under Bruce’s leadership, City of Refuge has pioneered a compassionate and holistic approach to vocational training while also providing critical wrap-around support services – from healthcare to housing, childcare and counseling – for some of our community’s most vulnerable residents.
I am grateful that the City of Refuge could join us at last week’s Summit. If you missed it, you can view the livestream to learn more about the critical work that City of Refuge is continuing to drive on the Westside. Watch HERE. Don’t forget to join us next Summit on March 15th, 2019 to hear from partners representing Westside Works.
By: Bruce Deel, Founder and CEO, City of Refuge
When I founded City of Refuge in 1997, I wanted to provide a place of solace to residents of Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods who were fighting for their lives – physically, emotionally or financially. Now more than twenty years later, City of Refuge brings light, hope and transformation to Atlanta’s Westside by providing life-saving resources and tools that arrest crisis, restore self-respect and help individuals and their families transition to independence. The ultimate goal: help residents break the cycle of poverty and reach middle class by middle age.
Using a set of key performance indicators, City of Refuge developed programs and strategic partnerships that help residents throughout the six stages of life: family formation, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, transition to adulthood, and thriving communities. Our programs focus on the following key impact areas as they relate to these life stages: safe and affordable housing, health and wellness, youth development and education, and vocational training to address the wage gap.
As part of the vocational training program, City of Refuge opened a Workforce Innovation Hub (WIH) in November 2017 to help men and women develop skills necessary for job placement. Featuring six flexible classroom spaces, WIH courses include a NAPA Auto Center, 180° Kitchen Culinary Arts Center, Security Academy and Tech Academy. City of Refuge partners with local employers who are eager to hire well-trained, responsible employees with a positive attitude. These partnerships have led to the selection of job training tracts that are offered in the WIH.
Since opening, WIH has hosted seven customer service cohorts, 12 security cohorts, three culinary training cohorts and two NAPA auto training cohorts. WIH has graduated 400 students and placed 365 in jobs. This year, WIH hopes to recruit 1,200 potential students, accept 500 students to train, and place 400 of those students in jobs earning a living wage.
WIH also partners with Veterans Molding Minds to recruit veteran students from the community. City of Refuge has a five-person team of recruiters that work alongside Good Works Employment Center to coordinate opportunities, jobs, identification and placement. Their services ensure potential students meet any qualifications required by the programs and that they have the motivation needed to succeed in job placement.
WIH ensures students can focus on their studies by providing them with mentorship and case management services, two hot and healthy meals a day at no charge from the 180° Degree Kitchen, onsite early childcare services provided by the Feed My Lambs nursery school, and onsite healthcare services provided by Mercy Care Clinic.
Please partner with us to impact the Westside community in Atlanta, Georgia as we work to increase employment. Sign up for City of Refuge’s annual 5K fundraiser: Refuge Run 2019.