The Job Ready, Willing, and Able Initiative (JRWA) was a 3-year initiative funded by Walmart Foundation which provided 17 community colleges with resources to engage unemployed or underemployed adults in education, training, and wraparound services that lead to middle-skill credentials and careers. JRWA colleges demonstrated diverse geographic, demographic, and economic profiles that included a range of local industries and employment opportunities such as; healthcare and manufacturing, office administration, utility workers, and chemical polymer technicians. Colleges performed extensive market research to hone in on in-demand jobs in each of their respective communities.
Over the duration of the program, 5,277 individuals enrolled in middle-skill training programs, 2,114 individuals gained employment and 5,866 credentials were awarded. Unique elements of this project included the use of Department of Labor’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to address food insecurity and providing wrap-around services such as counseling, day care, housing, transportation, and work readiness services to address participant needs and remove barriers to completion. 12,355 wrap around services were provided during the 3-year initiative. The colleges were also able to obtain over $11,000,000 dollars in leveraged funds.
Beyond training, credentialing, and employment access, the work of the JRWA colleges further demonstrated best practices in the delivery of student-directed services from entry through the attainment of credentials and employment. These included basic literacy skills competencies in preparation for or in conjunction with middle-skills training, wraparound services, job readiness training, and employer interfacing, as well as follow-up tracking to confirm long-term outcomes.”