StepUp Wilmington’s Executive Director, Will Rikard, sits down with Kevin Mauer to talk jobs on the Collective Voice podcast.
Listen to their conversation here.
StepUp Wilmington’s Executive Director, Will Rikard, sits down with Kevin Mauer to talk jobs on the Collective Voice podcast.
Listen to their conversation here.
You’ve probably heard the terms “Diversity and Inclusion” in the workplace, as many companies in Corporate America have begun implementing task forces that focus on creating a more inclusive culture. A culture that is needed now more than ever.
These terms do not only include race and gender. Being inclusive means hiring those from different economic backgrounds, various education levels and other factors that may set an individual apart. This type of differentiation strengthens the production of new ideas and outlooks, increases problem-solving and influences organizational growth. By focusing solely on education or work experience, you may miss out on a hidden talent pool of top employees.
It’s no secret that we all aren’t given the same opportunities for success. Many individuals in our community face multiple barriers to entering the workforce, whether it be a lack of access to affordable education, transportation or a background. By not having qualifying credentials or relevant training, it is very unlikely that individuals with these barriers will acquire sustainable employment.
In 2017, Tyton Partners measured that over 103 million adults in the United States could benefit from education-to-employment ramps to put them on the same level of those who have had access to these opportunities by default.
In order to create a community of equal opportunity and inclusion, we have to be innovative. Society’s outlook on employment is changing, and StepUp Wilmington is playing an active role in creating that change by vetting and training individuals that may be your company’s missing piece.
Are you hiring? Reach out to Bennett (Bennett@StepUpWilmington.org) to find out how you can hire diverse, pre-screened and trained individuals from StepUp Wilmington.
“This process is not microwavable. If you come to StepUp Wilmington looking for an instant meal, it’s going to be bland and basic. But, if you’re willing to commit to the process of a home-cooked meal like grandma used to make on Sundays back in the day, you’ll reap the benefits. When you finally get to sit down for the meal, you’ll taste every bit of seasoning and effort put into it. That’s what you’re going to find when you’re patient and commit to StepUp. You’ll realize why it was well worth the wait.”
These words are something that Tameka Nixon, StepUp Wilmington’s new Step2 Case Manager, has used to keep her going not only during her time as a participant with StepUp Wilmington but throughout every obstacle she has endured.
Tameka began her journey with StepUp Wilmington in February 2018 when she joined Step2, the organization’s 9-month life skills initiative.
“I needed a change. I was still in poverty even while working multiple jobs. I’m educated – I have a bachelor’s degree – so I knew there had to be something better,” Tameka shared on her decision to join the evening workshop. “It has impacted my life tremendously because now I can go back into my community and show others that success is possible. I can use what I learned to go back and start right from the beginning with them.”
Aside from her passion for supporting the elimination of poverty in the Cape Fear region, Tameka was also intrigued by StepUp Wilmington’s mission to place 1,000 jobs by 2022, inspiring her to play a part in achieving that goal.
“I remember reading about the job goal in the newspaper and thinking that it was so amazing that I am going to be a part of that. We’re going to turn Wilmington around – the views, the generational curses, the racism,” she said. “We’re going to help the community keep their heads up and not look down anymore.”
Tameka’s first month as a StepUp Wilmington employee has been “overwhelming but so exciting”.
“I’m so eager to help and be someone’s guide on the sidelines. I can’t wait to see the smiles when they hit their goals and break down whatever’s holding them back.”
Your surroundings don’t determine your future.
Oliver, a StepUp Wilmington graduate, is proof.
He grew up in an environment that tried to inhibit his success from a young age but he remained a leader and continued to prosper. Watching his mother work multiple jobs with an unwavering work ethic, he knew that when it was time for him to do his part, he wanted to do it right. In 2016, Oliver stepped up to the plate and signed up for Jobs Week.
“Jobs Week helped me a lot, especially when it came to doing the mock interviews. It made a big difference. I didn’t just learn about myself but I learned about the community too,” he said, referencing the connections he made with other participants that he might not have come across on his own.
Following his graduation from Jobs Week, Oliver used his new-found knowledge to score a temporary position at Victaulic, a StepUp Wilmington employer partner.
“After six months at Victaulic, I got hired full time in shipping and receiving,” he said. “After I got it, I joined Step2 because I knew I needed to learn more about savings and building credit. I wanted to be smart with my money and save for a house.”
Since completing Step2, Oliver has accomplished exactly what he set out to do when we first met him four years ago.
“I feel more confident and I have a good job. I even bought my first house last year. Victaulic has been good to me. I really like it there.”
Are you ready to make a change? Whether you’re looking for work, a job with better pay or personal and financial development, give us a call at (910)343-8469 to hear what we have to offer.
What is the Opportunity Gap?
The Opportunity Gap is the lack of access to resources and quality education needed to set individuals up for success. Without training or credentials, it is nearly impossible to acquire sustainable employment with higher-wages. While this may seem like a small feat, this disparity impacts the trajectory of lives and creates patterns that can leave generations of a family trying to get ahead to no avail.
In New Hanover County alone, about 25% of households have an annual salary of under $25K. This is less than the living salary needed to provide for a single individual according to MIT’s living wage calculator.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce found that 40% of NC employers are having trouble hiring talent. The top reasons for this include a lack of skills training and employability. Inaccessibility to the skills and education needed to attain this level of employability should not equate to having to settle for low-paying positions with little to no opportunity for growth.
Since its start in 2003, StepUp Wilmington has worked to meet the need in our community by providing free job skills training, access to gainful employment and works with community partners to make affordable higher education possible. The organization also works with local employers to provide jobs with a fair wage, and established NextUp to address underemployment in our region, allowing individuals to find better jobs with increased income.
While there is still work to be done, StepUp Wilmington is actively working to create more pathways to success for members of our community.
If you or someone you know is ready to get to work, give us a call at (910)343-8469 to learn more.
StepUp Wilmington’s mission is all about getting members of our community into good jobs with fair wages. To make this possible, the organization partners with top employers in the Cape Fear Region to place hundreds of jobs each year.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) is one of those employers.
“NHRMC is driven to support hiring people from all walks of life to support our mission”, hiring partner and Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Wayne Strauss, shared on the hospital’s support of StepUp Wilmington. “We believe in helping the community and giving back to the best of our ability.”
Since 2016, NHRMC has hired 17 StepUp Wilmington graduates for various positions, 10 of which were hired in the last year.
One graduate who particularly stands out is Sediah who completed Jobs Week in November 2018.
“She is very connected to the process of providing an outstanding experience for all patients,” Strauss said of Sediah. “She has fully learned her job and is going to be cross-training into another level of the operation soon. We love working with her as she brings a great attitude, smiles and compassionate care to our employees and patients.”
Thank you, NHRMC, for support jobs in our community!
Are you interested in hiring from StepUp Wilmington? Contact Ally (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more.
A North Carolina native, Rebecca was first introduced to Wilmington upon enrolling into UNCW’s Cameron School of Business.
“My time at UNCW really connected me with the city and made me want to stay here after graduating,” she said. “I got a job at Live Oak Bank, which has been a tremendous experience and has shown me the importance of enjoying your work.”
Live Oak Bank, a long-time supporter of StepUp Wilmington, is a philanthropic company that encourages its employees to get involved in the community. Rebecca was immediately drawn to this idea and, when given the opportunity, joined StepUp Wilmington’s board of young professionals.
“I was interested in a different approach to giving back to the community and wanted to be involved with a board that had the capability to make decisions that would result in change,” Rebecca shared. “When Bethany [Leighton] explained the opportunities for contribution towards StepUp, it was an easy decision to want to take part.”
Since joining the board in January 2019, Rebecca has not only worked to keep her colleagues on the board inspired, but was also the brains behind providing day planners to StepUp Wilmington participants in the organization’s 9-month life skills initiative.
On why she supports StepUp Wilmington, she says, “Above all, the mission of StepUp is what always brings me back to the “why” of being involved.” She continues, “When you meet the participants and see the impact of the organization, you realize how StepUp is simply giving individuals the tools needed to have autonomy over their lives. It is a breath of hope and support for those who need it most. It makes you thankful to be apart of a community filled with such resilient individuals.”
During her tenure on the board of young professionals, Rebecca hopes to be an asset for the organization in providing tools, resources and ideas that help to break the norm in our community.
Thank you, Rebecca, and the entire Board of Young Professionals for supporting our work!
Six years ago, Ashanti was unemployed and searching for work. A staffing agency recommended StepUp Wilmington and she decided to take a chance, not knowing that this chance would become the start of a new career path, a new passion and a new life.
Ashanti completed Jobs Week, became employed full-time and went back to school to pursue her bachelor’s, but that wasn’t the end of her journey with the organization.
In 2016, she was hired by StepUp Wilmington as a Financial Assistant but quickly realized her passion for working with the individuals and families in the organization’s life skills initiative, Step2, moving her to a Case Manager position and, ultimately, into her current role as Program Manager. Her experience in this role has made Wednesday’s her favorite day of the week!
“My favorite part of my job is, of course, Wednesday evenings! I love being apart of our community of thriving support,” Ashanti said. “Each Wednesday, Step2 participants, Jobs Week graduates, volunteers and staff get together, share a meal and learn ways to continue on a path towards leading a stable life.”
Ashanti connects most to the part of StepUp Wilmington’s mission that states, “to empower individuals to reach their potential,” as her role directly influences the encouragement and confidence-building of those that she takes under her wing in Step2. With the program’s 100% investment match, Ashanti, with the help of volunteers, helps individuals’ budget and put their new earnings towards a goal like a down-payment on a car or a new home, pushing them closer to ultimate stability.
In five years, she predicts that everyone in the Cape Fear Region will know the name: StepUp Wilmington.
“I see StepUp as a household name, where everyone in this community knows that we help provide jobs with fair wages and the support individuals need to become a thriving member of society,” Ashanti said.
In addition to her role at StepUp Wilmington, Ashanti is also involved with Tri-County Homeless Interagency Council, the Race Equity Discussion Series, the New Hanover County Community Remembrance Project and a mentee with WILMA’s Women to Watch Leadership Initiative mentoring program.
Thank you, Ashanti, for all that you do!
Nikkie came to StepUp Wilmington after a long and unsuccessful job search that left her wondering, “what am I doing wrong?”.
Being let go from her previous job, not only was she feeling deflated, but she was having trouble defining her value. During Jobs Week, the affirmation session made a light bulb go off and bettering her life was the only thing on her mind.
“I learned that I am a valuable person of great worth. That really stuck out to me because whenever things weren’t working out, I would just give up,” Nikkie said. “When you realize your worth and you start to speak positively to yourself, it makes a difference.”
Following her graduation from Jobs Week, Nikkie kept in constant contact with her employment counselor during her job search. Together, they created the perfect explanation for why she was let go from her last position. After applying to a few places, she finally got the call she was waiting for.
“I got through the phone interview and it went great so they called me back for a second. The questions were a little strange but by doing my mock interview beforehand, I was perfectly ready.”
Not only did she blow the interview out of the water, but she was placed in the exact field and position that she was hoping for, making $3 more than her last job.
On Jobs Weeks’ impact, Nikkie claimed, “It changes your mind about everything you thought was right. You don’t know what’s going on in the minds of employers, but the volunteers came in and told you exactly what they look for. I thought I knew what I was doing but I learned things I never even thought about.”
Despite her hardships, Nikkie was persistent in her search for better because she wanted to make sure that her children saw what success looked like. Recently, her goal was affirmed.
“My daughter was doing a school project on the most successful person she knew and she decided to interview me. That’s how I knew that I made it.”
If you’re ready for success, give us a call at (910)343-8469 to learn how we can assist.
“Come on in and welcome home. We’re here for you.”
This is the tried and true phrase that Philippians 3 Ministries’ executive director, Jerri Holliday, uses when greeting the many members of our community that she meets with each week. The non-profit provides upscale professional clothing to men and women in the Cape Fear Region free of charge and free of judgement.
“We started over 10 years ago and it has been an honor and a privilege,” Jerri said. “I want people to understand that they are valuable no matter what they’ve done.”
Jerri can relate to some of the individuals that she serves because of her own experience with starting over again following incarceration.
“When you get out of prison, people treat you so funny but even through all of that, I prospered. I prospered even as a convicted felon,” she says. “I have a past but that was just part of my process. We just have to remember that what we went through was our process, not our purpose.”
Philippians 3 Ministries began partnering with StepUp Wilmington back when the organization was known as Phoenix Employment Ministry. Today, she is the sole provider of interview clothing for StepUp Wilmington’s participants.
“StepUp’s participants are at a place where they’re ready to do more. The focus is on the part of the individual that wants to do better,” Jerri says. “We can help with that. We can show them a new version of themselves.”
Thank you to Jerri and all of StepUp Wilmington’s community partners for all that you do!