Mayor G.T. Bynum and officials cut ceremonial ribbon on expanded training center
April 18, 2019 – Tulsa Community WorkAdvance leaders announced today, the creation of two new workforce preparedness initiatives to benefit citizens and employers in North Tulsa and young adults in the greater metro area. Mayor G.T. Bynum, along with representatives from Greenheck Group and Tulsa area civic leaders also cut a ceremonial ribbon on the new, 10,000 square foot expanded space for Tulsa Community WorkAdvance at 907 S. Detroit Ave. in the Sun Building.
Tulsa Community WorkAdvance launched more than eight years ago and provides job seekers with no-cost technical training, job placement and extensive career coaching services.
“We first focused on the Tulsa area industry sectors in greatest need of employees, the manufacturing and transportation sectors,” WorkAdvance’s Executive Director Karen Pennington said. “Now with evidence that our national model is effective as an anti-poverty solution, we are expanding those services to include the information technology and accounting industry sectors.”
Information technology and accounting industry trainings are funded in partnership with the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.
Additionally, this required WorkAdvance to expand its customer training space from 2,500 square feet to more than 10,000 square feet which will allow the organization to serve hundreds of more Tulsans annually.
About Due North
Now, with the recent announcements of job expansions in the North Tulsa region, WorkAdvance is expanding its geographic footprint to bring its training services to citizens with a program called Due North.
“North Tulsa has a reported unemployment rate of 12.2 percent and median household income 35 percent lower than the greater Tulsa region,” said Pennington. “WorkAdvance has the greatest opportunity to positively impact the economic outlook of North Tulsa by increasing access to and completion of short-term training programs. Due North will ensure citizens in the greater North Tulsa area are prepared with the skills needed to capitalize on these employment opportunities.”
Due North offers short-term, customized training classes, at the north campuses of Tulsa Tech and Tulsa Community College, and at community partner locations, such as Tulsa Dream Center and Tulsa Housing Authority.
“For success, we need to recognize and work together to find solutions to the challenges faced by many of our citizens. We have placed the training where it is most readily accessible to residents and at no cost to enroll,” Pennington said. “Through Due North, residents will be prepared with the skills needed to acquire jobs with good wages and career advancement opportunities and employers in the North Tulsa area will have access to an increased pipeline of ready-to-work employees.”
To further positively impact employment opportunities, WorkAdvance is launching a program called NextUp focused on a targeted demographic of 18- to 24-year-olds in the greater Tulsa region.
“We estimate more than 11,000 in this age group are not working or are not currently in school,” Pennington said. “Recruitment efforts are focused on foster children aging out of the Oklahoma foster system, many times without a home or resources, and high school graduates without plans for work or continuing education.”
NextUp provides the direction and skills needed for young adults to find his or her first job, complete a GED, enroll in short-term technical training or learn about new occupations and career pathways. NextUp participants can enroll in training offered through the full WorkAdvance program, or pursue other educational opportunities through community schools. It is of no cost to enroll, and partnerships with Youth Services of Tulsa, the Mental Health Association Oklahoma and Modus Tulsa will provide additional resources missing in the lives of this age group.
“NextUp sees young adults not as tomorrow’s talent to be developed, but today’s talent to be leveraged,” Pennington said. “This is a group that is often overlooked and underestimated. NextUp means that we can further remove the roadblocks these young people encounter – most importantly lack of transportation to classes and to work.”
One of the employers that will benefit from the NextUp and Due North programs is also one of newest companies to announce a major expansion in the North Tulsa region, the Greenheck Group.
“We opened our first two plants in recent months, and we have approximately 60 employees today. By year five, we will have 600 employees and our growth in Tulsa doesn’t stop there,” said Greenheck’s Campus Director Rachel Anderson. “With this fast ramp-up, we are seeking strategic and meaningful partnerships to help build our Greenheck Tulsa workforce. Through our partnership with WorkAdvance, we have already hired two great candidates from the program who will start with us next week.”
Due North and NextUp were funded in part by the Tulsa Area United Way Social Innovation Grant which seeks fresh, innovative strategies to reverse perpetual social and economic barriers. Additional funders of the programs include: the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation and the Lumina Foundation.