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Jobs Program Pays Off for Nonprofits

December 16, 2013

Erica Erwin, Erie Times-News

More than 150 Erie-area people found jobs or received job training through a $2.4 million effort to create career development programs.

Highmark on Friday announced the results of its Highmark Local Workforce Initiative, a two-year effort that awarded cash grants of at least $50,000 to 31 nonprofit organizations across Pennsylvania.

Six Erie-area organizations received a total of about $325,000: the Community Education Council of Elk and Cameron Counties; Regional Center for Workforce Excellence; St. Martin Center Inc.; the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Erie County; Urban Erie Community Development Corporation; and the WRC Pennsylvania Memorial Home.

Funding was targeted to newly developed or expanded programs designed for those who have lost a job or never had one; people challenged by poverty or disability; young adults with literacy issues and veterans returning home to a weakened job market.

In total, more than 5,900 individuals received job search assistance, job training for entry-level positions and advancement, computer and GED educations and more job-focused opportunities, according to Highmark. A total of 785 program participants found jobs; 504 people kept their jobs; and 180 participants received promotions or salary increases.

The programs in the Erie area were varied.

The St. Martin Center provided hospitality and culinary training through a program designed for low-income people. The Urban Erie Community Development Corporation used language software in an English as a Second Language course to teach language and concepts related to employment in several industries and building trades. The program also connected job seekers and potential employers; 15 participants found jobs.

NAMI of Erie County used the funding for its Peer-to-Peer Workforce Development program, which provides people with mental illness with job readiness and financial management training, job coaching and placement services.

Sixty people were placed in new jobs. Forty retained their positions, and 15 were promoted as a result of the program, Executive Director Denise Kolivoski said.

The results helped convince the United Way of Erie County to provide enough funding to keep the program running for another three years, Kolivoski said.

One in four people in Erie County, or about 70,000, are affected by mental illness every year, she said.

"This program really helps make a difference in the community," Kolivoski said.

ERICA ERWIN can be reached at 870-1846 or by e-mail. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNerwin.

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(c)2013 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

Original headline: Highmark job program pays off for Erie nonprofits


Source: (c)2013 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.)

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