Our Plan to Support Economic Recovery
- Published On
- August 31, 2021
Originally published September 3, 2020
Our organization was founded in 1998 by a group of social workers with the shared dream of helping women achieve economic prosperity through trades training and mentorship.
We primarily work with women who are underemployed or unemployed and focus on removing common barriers to financial independence. These barriers include access to affordable housing, academic readiness, access to affordable childcare and more.
Over the last 20 years, we’ve grown to become a trusted name in our focus industries for introductory training and inspiring more women to explore careers opportunities in these areas.
We’re proud to share success stories of our graduates and other women who have built successful careers in industries where women have historically been underrepresented.
This year, like many organizations across the world, we had to pause our operations and pivot in rapid response to the Covid-19 pandemic. With the support of our stakeholders, we were able to safely wrap up a few programs online and connect graduates with entry level positions with various employment partners. We also had to postpone many of our programs to avoid close, in-person contact.
As a non-profit, it’s critical to maintain fiscal sustainability and especially during times of uncertainty. The reality is if we’re not running our programs, we’re not able to fully deliver on our mission. Covid-19 forced all of us into some tough but necessary decisions.
Like many organizations, we saw this time as an opportunity to evaluate and strengthen our operations while continuing to support our graduates and prospective students.
- We gathered insight and feedback from our employment partners to understand the industry impacts.
- We adjusted our program delivery to bring some elements of training to a virtual learning environment.
- We connected with over 1,800 WBF graduates to see where they needed support during this time and shared community resources for mental health, financial aid, affordable housing, and more.
- We polled our graduates to see what additional courses would be helpful for them to advance their careers.
- We developed new partnerships and programs to diversify our training.
- We evaluated our current classroom and workshop space and adjusted to adapt to our “new normal” in the safest way possible by spacing out desks, placing directional signage, limiting the number of people in our building, created and introduced self-screening assessments, and more.
- We continued to offer safe, affordable housing to 38 women in central Edmonton and implemented measures to ensure their safety.
As a result of the support from our partners, we have fortunately been able to slowly resume some of our programming. We’ve also been able to maintain sustainable operations for our affordable housing and support services.
Safety will remain our number one priority as we move forward, and operational sustainability will continue to be at the forefront of our strategy.
We know Covid-19 has disproportionately affected women in our community. Childcare facilities across the province temporarily closed and many are still facing limitations to full operation. Retail, hospitality, and customer service sectors were faced with mass temporary and permanent layoffs – many of the positions in these industries are held by women. Reports of domestic violence increased across the country while families were in isolation together.
Access to childcare, education & training, and safe, affordable housing are only a few of the barriers we know women are faced with every day. Covid-19 has only increased these barriers and made it more difficult for many women to become financially independent and prosperous.
In response to the economic recovery plan, we will be expanding offerings to include a series of short training programs. The goal of these programs is to support women who are currently unemployed to get to work. These programs will align with entry level employment opportunities and provincial recovery projects while maintaining our historic partnerships which have been critical for our growth.
Our short programs will be a mix of training opportunities for our currently unemployed alumni to upskill and new condensed programs for new students to learn the basics to get working right away.
Our focus will always be removing barriers for women to succeed. Whether that’s developing and pivoting programs to support the economic landscape, working collaboratively with other non-profit organizations to bring awareness of opportunity to women, or championing the importance of accessible childcare.
Our proudest moments are hearing how our programs have helped increased the confidence of our students and how their careers have helped them reach their goals. These success stories serve as a beautiful reminder of the truly life changing impact that’s possible, if barriers are removed and equitable opportunity is available.
Economic recovery is not possible without the participation of everyone; including women and underrepresented groups.
This has been a challenging year but it’s uncovered an incredible amount of compassion and the true power of community. As Alberta moves into economic recovery and infrastructure projects begin to ramp up, our graduates will be ready to work. Employers can take pride knowing they’re supporting women and making a difference.
Thank you again for your continued support.
– Carol Moen, President & CEO