The needs of the job seekers and alumni we serve at Opportunity Junction didn't shut down on March 16th, and neither did we. Staff members are offering relief to those hit hardest, thanks to our supporters' generosity, while pivoting to remote program delivery.
"Our priorities have been to help our job seekers and alumni meet their immediate needs while developing effective remote training and programs," says Alissa Friedman, President and CEO. "Our staff members have worked harder than ever to pivot and create new systems for support."
The Administrative Careers Training program made an immediate (and photogenic) move to online training using Zoom. Trainees were sent home on March 12th with student laptops (usually used only overnight for homework), and classes continued in online format the morning of March 16th.
"We then had to develop the systems to recruit new candidates for the class that begins June 1st," recalls Brianna Robinson, VP of Programs. "We streamlined the application and made improvements that we'll keep even after we're back to normal." An online application was developed by Data Analyst Nolan Yee, and program staffers trained to perform remote intake.
Meanwhile, Technology Center classes have also moved to Zoom classrooms, including classes in English as a Second Language and Computer Basics.
Our surveys of job seekers and alumni, meanwhile, showed that many have critical needs that go beyond employment or that are caused by unemployment. "While employment-related needs for respondents or their spouses topped the list at 74%, many others expressed needs in the areas of food and housing security," explains Alissa.
Grants from Tipping Point, the Community Health Fund, Travis Credit Union, and RCF Connects allowed our program teams to offer modest emergency relief to those who most need it.
For others, staff members have addressed their needs by helping them navigate the unemployment insurance system or access the federal stimulus check. "There was a lot of confusion about when the new Pandemic Unemployment Insurance would be available," states Kaylan Billeci, College and Career Counselor. Kaylan is available at
While the office is still shut, the only offering we cannot convert to remote programming is our onsite access to computers and the Internet during the evenings. Full details on program status are at https://www.opportunityjunction.org/covid19.