WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Walmart and the Walmart Foundation today announced a $3 million initiative designed to help D.C. residents get the skills and training they need to gain employment. The program will offer literacy, customer service and retail training to 2,000 District residents.
At an event at the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) Building, Walmart officials were joined by Mayor Vincent Gray, DOES Director Lisa Mallory, Community College of the District of Columbia CEO Dr. Jonathan Gueverra, and D.C. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barbara Lang.
According to a 2007 report by the District State Education Agency, 37 percent of D.C. residents are functionally illiterate and can perform only the simplest literacy tasks. In Wards 5, 7 and 8, these rates were closer to 50 percent. D.C. unemployment stands at 10.4 percent.
"Walmart's urban workforce development pilot initiative in D.C. will help prepare the city's residents with the workplace skills and training they need," said Mayor Vincent Gray. "It is this type of public-private partnership – between the D.C. government, academic institutions, business and community based organizations, and Walmart – that will provide the opportunity for D.C. residents to be part of the solution in making a better, stronger workforce and community."
"Whenever you turn on the news, you are reminded that unemployment is a major issue in this country and in this city – it is a problem that has impacted countless D.C. residents for months and some for several years," said Michelle Gilliard, Senior Director at the Walmart Foundation. "This initiative is designed to help thousands of men and women – especially those who have been chronically unemployed – gain the skills they need to be more competitive for jobs and get back to work, whether as Walmart associates or employees at other businesses across D.C. and the region."
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have worked with the Community College of the District of Columbia and the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region to develop a two-pronged approach to ensure residents have access to a wide-range of services:
Community College of the District of Columbia (CCDC) will provide job readiness training to more than 1,000 D.C. residents. Specifically, training through a Retail Academy will prepare individuals for entry level positions in the retail industry. The programs will also offer English literacy, math, computer literacy and customer service training.
Community Foundation for the National Capital Region will administer an open grant competition that will re-grant $1.3 million from the Walmart Foundation to local Community Based Organizations. The funding will support programs designed to improve residents' skills such as English as a second language, computer literacy, math and customer service training. For more information, visit http://www.thecommunityfoundation.org/.
All participants in the programs will have access to job recruitment, career counseling and job placement services for customer service opportunities at companies across D.C., including future Walmart stores.
"The offerings at CCDC provide more than a set of tools and skills for D.C. residents to succeed in their careers and in life. We are proud to be a catalyst and an engine that drives economic development in the District of Columbia. This partnership is just one example of how The Community College of the District of Columbia is actively engaged with business and city leaders." said Dr. Jonathan Gueverra, CCDC CEO. "The Urban Workforce Development Initiative actively provides solutions to help eradicate problems like illiteracy and unemployment that are hurting the most vulnerable Washingtonians every day."
"With D.C.'s unemployment in the double digits, it is critical that we provide D.C. residents with the opportunity to succeed in the workplace," said Barbara Lang, D.C. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. "A trained workforce benefits all employers throughout the city who can count on better-trained workers improving the bottom line of D.C. business."
Last fall, Walmart announced a two-year plan to open four stores, create 1,200 jobs and improve customer access to fresh, affordable groceries in Washington D.C. At the time, the retailer said it planned to significantly broaden its commitment to supporting local organizations, particularly in the critical areas of workforce development and hunger relief.
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support initiatives that are helping people live better around the globe. In May 2010, Walmart and its Foundation made a historic pledge of $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger in the U.S. The Walmart Foundation also supports education, workforce development, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness initiatives. To learn more, visit http://www.walmartfoundation.org/.