How a $2.4 million grant turned into more than 500 jobs

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 4, 2013 5:00 AM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Tina Nixon, CEO, YWCA of Greater Harrisburg, speaks Tuesday about the value of the job training program.

(Harrisburg) -- Thousands of people have received training, and hundreds are now employed, thanks to a midstate job training program. The program itself may be over, but its leaders hope to continue the momentum.

Stephanie Lee had dropped out of high school, never got a GED, and was just focused on making money to get through the day.

But after going through the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg's program, she's earned a high school certificate, is getting training to be a hairdresser, and hopes to one day open her own shop.

Lee, who lives on State Street in Harrisburg's Allison Hill neighborhood, says she had help from family, but the program gave her more hope than ever.

It wasn't that no one was doing it, it's just sometimes when someone that isn't as close to you can believe in you as much as they do, it makes you feel like you are someone. Your family is always going to be your support system, but if you have people in the community that believe in you too, then there's no limit to what you can do."

Highmark Blue Shield funded the YWCA program and six others in the midstate over the past two years (spending $2.4 million) including ones focused on construction and health care in Lancaster County.

Scott Sheely, Executive Director of the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Boards, says helping out those who need it can help the region in turn.

"We do want to be competitive with the best trained and skilled workforce. Workforce is about people and jobs. And that's what we want to do as an economic development corporation. We want to get as many people employed, as many people trained as possible, so that they can get long-term, sustainable employment."

Leaders pledge that case managers will keep in touch with participants to help them through any issues in the future.

504 of those trained are currently employed, according to Highmark, and 180 participants have earned wage hikes or advanced in their job.

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