United Way of Greater Waterbury and Bank of America Announce Support for Hispanics in Healthcare Careers Program

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Funding from Bank of America will Provide Job Training & Placement Opportunities for Underemployed & Displaced Workers

Waterbury, CT — The United Way of Greater Waterbury Financial Stability strategies has received a grant from Bank of America, which will ensure ease of access to resources for both the displaced worker and the under or unemployed. The proven strategies focus on access to education and training needed to develop successful career paths and secure good jobs while providing income supports to increase household financial stability.

The $10,000 grant will support Hispanics in Healthcare Careers, a program of the Working Cities Challenge Initiative, an ongoing effort that hopes to implement systems changes that make a real difference because the impetus for those changes comes directly from the people in the community.

The funding will help improve the financial stability of households in the area; all participants receive case management services and the remediation of other barriers such as childcare, transportation, uniforms, and exam fees.

The Hispanics in Healthcare program offers English as a second language classes to low-income, unemployed/underemployed, mostly Hispanic participants from Waterbury’s South End. Vocational ESL for the workplace is also offered as a part of the program.

Those who complete the ESL class are placed into appropriate Vocational Education training in either a proprietary school, Naugatuck Valley Community College or Stone Academy.

In the Hispanics in Healthcare program this past fiscal year, 75 clients have expanded their English Language skills and 80 clients understand how community college can help them achieve employment/career goals and know how to begin the enrollment process.

Funding and direction for the Working Cities initiative comes from The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, part of the central bank of the United States.

Waterbury was selected as one of the five of Connecticut cities to join the challenge, and received a three-year, $450,000 grant to implement its RIBA (River Baldwin) ASPIRA initiative, which focuses on addressing the economic and racial/ethnic inequities that have devalued the once-vibrant South End neighborhood.

The RIBA ASPIRA team plans to improve life for neighborhood residents, children, and families by creating a strong and resident-driven civic infrastructure, realigning and relocating job training services, and revising childcare decision-making policies to be more equitable.

Currently, the unemployment rate in the south end is 23 percent, nearly four times the city average. This is the result of low educational attainment, limited access to job training, a lack of services due to years of disinvestment and inattention, and the physical isolation of the neighborhood. An absence of organized resident outreach, inaccessible and fragmented services, and unbalanced policies have further contributed to the neighborhood’s economic condition.

Jason Martinez, vice president of community impact, explained, “United Way of Greater Waterbury focuses on three impact areas, including financial stability.  By making sure people have the chance to earn livable wages, we are helping them to take care of their families.”

He added, “Thanks to Bank of America and United Way donors, we can invest in a strategy that redefines the Waterbury neighborhood literally cut off by I-84.  This year’s campaign theme is Build the Bridge and I can’t think of a more appropriate description of how we’re crossing a divide to provide opportunities to our Black and Brown communities, an opportunity that, in turn, benefits the whole community as we collaborate with both Saint Mary's Hospital and Waterbury Hospital.  The Hispanics in Healthcare program is fulfilling the need for essential medical workers highlighted by the pandemic as a vital community need.”

“In Waterbury and across Connecticut, we are experiencing an unprecedented need to upskill our workforce and connect people to meaningful jobs,” said Bill Tommins, President, Bank of America Southern Connecticut. “Through our partnership with the United Way of Greater Waterbury, we are not only providing individuals educational and training resources, we are also helping families strengthen their economic futures by helping them secure jobs. We thank United Way for the opportunity to partner on this initiative and look forward to watching the Hispanics in Healthcare Careers Program transform the lives of local families here in Waterbury.”

Kristen Jacoby, president of United Way of Greater Waterbury, said, “RIBA ASPIRA Career Academy and the Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury are our partners on the ground.  For decades, the United Way of Greater Waterbury has developed initiatives thanks to the generosity of organizations like Bank of America.  Jason mentioned financial stability but it’s interesting to note that people’s experiences overlap with that and our other two impact areas: basic needs and education.  The success of programs like Hispanics in Healthcare Careers is also the success story of an investment made through the United Way 75th anniversary grants.  Bank of America is helping us continue that pilot work, even kick it into overdrive, where we’re connecting the dots and people are becoming self-sufficient.  This is just a great example of the value of relationships in the community and what can be accomplished when we come together.”

Tomas Olivo Valentin, program director with RIBA ASPIRA Career Academy said, "Thank you to the United Way of Greater Waterbury for continuing to be a committed partner to this initiative, and committed to bettering the life of the families in our community."

United Way of Greater Waterbury has received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for three consecutive years, based on its fiscal stability and ability to adhere to best practices as it mobilizes our ten-town region, amplifies its resources, and invests in approaches that advance equity and measurable outcomes.

United Way of Greater Waterbury’s service area includes Bethlehem, Cheshire, Middlebury, Prospect, Southbury, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott, and Woodbury.  www.unitedwaygw.org.

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