Partnering to Build a 21st Century Workforce
Wells Fargo and ZeroDivide recently kicked off the Technology Learning Program, a new initiative designed to increase economic opportunities for low-income individuals and disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through this initiative, a cohort of nonprofit organizations that provide workforce training and economic development services will develop a deeper understanding of how technology can be leveraged to achieve greater impact in their communities.
A reception took place this past Monday at Wells Fargo offices to convene leaders from the participating organizations, Wells Fargo executives, and ZeroDivide leadership and staff. The event enabled participants to become familiar with how ZeroDivide will work with them over the coming months. Terri Winston, Executive Director of Women’s Audio Mission and a longtime community partner of ZeroDivide, shared her experience of working with ZeroDivide to infuse technology into her own workforce development training program.
“There aren’t that many organizations that fund technology,” said Winston, “Having the support and expertise of ZeroDivide really helped us to launch, develop and grow our online training program.”
As part of Wells Fargo’s commitment to keeping communities strong, diverse, and vibrant, ZeroDivide received funding to design and implement the Technology Learning Program. The program comes at a critical juncture in the region, as the skills gap widens between available jobs and the workers to fill them. Despite current economic woes, nearly half of U.S. employers say they are having trouble finding the right people to hire for open positions. A lack of applicants who possess the necessary skills for in-demand jobs means that available, living-wage job opportunities go unfilled, while people who lack the training to fill these jobs remain unemployed or underemployed, exacerbating economic stagnation in low-income communities.
Community-based organizations play a critical role in narrowing this skills gap. Many of these organizations not only provide workforce development services through job skills training, career placement and entrepreneurship programs, but also have long histories of working closely within disadvantaged communities. Five San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit organizations were selected to participate in the Technology Learning Program, based on their track records of fostering economic development, their long-standing involvement in their communities and their ongoing passion for innovation.
Serving San Francisco for more than three decades, Asian Neighborhood Design responds to the complex issues disadvantaged individuals and communities face in trying to achieve a better life and environment by building healthy communities and providing opportunities for low-income residents to become economically self-sufficient. In addition to architecture and community planning services, Asian Neighborhood Design prepares young people and adults for long term employment, providing job training, job placement and career development.
The Chinese Newcomers Service Center (CNSC) is a nonprofit organization that provides multilingual services that help Chinese Immigrants adapt to life in the United States. Since 1969, CNSC has served as a bridge between the two cultures, enhancing the physical, mental, social and economic well-being of immigrants, thus facilitating their efforts to become self-sufficient contributing members of the community.
First Graduate is a San Francisco-based college success program that helps students finish high school and become the first in their families to graduate from college. Because a lack of parental education can be a major barrier to children's educational attainment, First Graduate works exclusively with aspiring college graduates whose parents never completed college in the United States.
Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center is a nonprofit small business development organization dedicated to helping women and men who traditionally lack access to resources and information to achieve financial self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship. Renaissance provides training, support services, resources and networks for business owners at every stage of business development, from idea feasibility through start-up, growth and expansion.
The Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC) was established in 1979 to improve the economic quality of life for Marin City residents. In addition to functioning as a community development catalyst, MCCDC increases household income through transitional employment, job training, career advancement and micro-enterprise support. MCCDC also helps constituents establish and improve creditworthiness, facilitate saving, acquire property and launch small businesses and social enterprises.
Participating organizations will gain new insights into their technology strengths and weaknesses, develop cost-effective technology integration plans and design roadmaps for technology implementation. Beyond capacity building, it is the aspiration of The Technology Leadership Program, that participating organizations will discover new opportunities to infuse technology into their programmatic design and delivery and to act upon this newfound information in ways that create truly transformational opportunities for their communities.
(Pictured: Tracy Curtis, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo, addresses Technology Learning Program participants.)