In Cumberland County, the local District Attorney, local law enforcement agencies, and Fayetteville Technical Community College partnered to launch Project Cumberland Grow. In June 2020, the Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors awarded $296,535 to Fayetteville Technical Community College through the Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work (GLOW) initiative.
GLOW was launched in 2020 when both labor force participation and unemployment were low and focused on providing workers with barriers to employment the knowledge, skills and support they need to gain quality jobs in order to provide employers with the workforce to meet their needs.
Fayetteville Tech provides assessment, training, and job placement support to individuals previously incarcerated for non-violent crimes. The District Attorney and local law enforcement agencies help in the identification of potential program candidates. Participants receive ongoing employment coaching from a success coach and are enrolled in a 15-week course focusing on electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and carpentry trades.
NC Works and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs are key partners, said Marvin Price, Success Coach for the Cumberland Grow Initiative at Fayetteville Technical Community College.
“The WIOA funds have helped students do things like purchase the required welding kit for the program,” said Price. “One of the positive outcomes is that these students become a part of the NC Works network, and they have knowledge of and access to more resources through NC Works once they complete the program.”
As part of the program, employers participate in workshops and have conversations with the Cumberland Grow participants.
“On Fridays we have employer workshops,” said Price. “Each cohort gets to talk to employers in the fields we are training in to learn more about the job and what the employers are looking for in employees. We have approximately 10 new partnerships with businesses that have opened the door to interviewing our students.”
Price says that one of the challenges is that employers want to hire students on the spot.
“We want the participants to complete the program first,” said Price. “We ask employers to wait until the students complete all the components of the program to help ensure long-term successful employment. It’s really a good problem to have because they need our program to help fill quality, skilled jobs.”
Check out this video of one of Cumberland Grow’s cohorts of participants who explain why they chose to participate in the program. So far, five of the six participants have jobs paying between $10 and $18 per hour. The remaining participant who is not currently employed is actively looking for employment.