Made possible by a three-year, $750,000 grant from the PepsiCo Foundation, the Women’s Workplace Readiness Initiative is the latest project of Southern Dallas Thrives, a program launched by a partnership between United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, The PepsiCo Foundation, and Frito-Lay North America.
Southern Dallas Thrives was created to better the region’s food security, educational outcomes, and career prospects. Now, they’ve committed to making women a focus of that effort, which is indicative of the keystone role women play in their communities.
Underserved communities in Southern Dallas are struggling. In the area today, nearly one in three adults live in poverty, according to Frito-Lay North America. Many of them are unemployed, and many of those who are employed are not being paid a living wage. Children are struggling, too—91 percent of students in the area are deemed disadvantaged, and 46 percent are not Kindergarten ready, according to Southern Dallas Thrives.
“Our entire community benefits when another North Texas woman is equipped with the training and support to enter and stay in the workforce with a good paying job that sustains her family,” Jennifer Sampson, CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, said in a statement.
The program strives to address two community issues at once: the lack of preparation of the general workforce to fill jobs in growing industries and the barriers to entry for women in these industries.
“The future of the workforce depends on educated and highly skilled workers,” Monica Lira Bravo, Chair of the Dallas College Board of Trustees, said in a statement.
The initiative’s goal of placing 550 women in high opportunity jobs over the next three years is a 75 percent increase from Southern Dallas Thrives’ previously stated goal of doing the same for 200 mothers.
“By equipping women in this program with the skills and knowledge needed to obtain and retain employment, we are helping to provide employers with ready-to-work talent in high demand fields,” John Siburt, CEO of CitySquare said in a statement.
In fact, according to Frito-Lay, providing women with access to childcare could help fill over 42,000 currently unfilled jobs in the area.
Women’s Workplace Readiness will offer three major support areas with the first being social support, which includes basic necessities such as housing, transportation, childcare, food, and nutrition.
The second involves participants attending soft-skills training at CitySquare, such as learning the professional development skills of finance management, networking, resume building, interview preparation, and work wardrobe recommendations.
The third area centers on technical skills training, which will take place at CitySquare and Dallas College and will focus on career path development.
Participants will have access to resources at Dallas College that is meant to set them up for work in high-growth, male-dominated industries such as advanced manufacturing and logistics, sales and marketing, food and hospitality, and management.
Participating women will be able to get involved in the initiative through various routes, including through a referral from another CitySquare program, from a representative at Dallas College, or from one of CitySquare’s over 100 community partners.
In the same spirit of this new partnership, PepsiCo has also announced the upcoming launch of a scholarship and mentorship program to help Black and Latinx students land roles in high growth areas of tech, engineering, and management. The program aims to support around 4,000 students over the next five years, and to eventually expand the program to 16 more American cities.
The larger Southern Dallas Thrives Initiative has already been successful in making a meaningful impact locally.
It has served more than 6,000 Dallas “neighbors” through COVID-19 relief efforts, provided 700 families with early developmental and educational resources, and distributed over 60,000 meals to community members.
The initiative announced today is also believed to be set for impact, with Sampson saying in a statement, “United Way’s holistic, collaborative approach to preparing women for career success, paired with Frito-Lay’s commitment to the communities in which its people live and work, makes us uniquely positioned to serve women in the Southern Dallas sector.”
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