A new scholarship program will help homeless and low-income Arlington women prep for new careers in healthcare, jobs that should increase family earnings and foster stability, community advocates say.
“We are really thrilled to have this opportunity to help the women in this really powerful way,” said Carol Klocek, CEO of YWCA Fort Worth & Tarrant County. “Our work is moving women out of poverty, and we know that the key to that is education — and this is creating that open door to education that creates access to a livable wage.”
The YWCA received a $50,000 grant from Women Inspiring Philanthropy, a nonprofit group that works to transform lives in Arlington. The three-year grant will provide career training scholarships for Arlington women who qualify.
Linda Dipert, president of the group, said the grant is an example of women helping other women.
“I am proud and excited to know this money was donated by local women wanting to make a difference in Arlington,” Dipert said.
Under the grant, the YWCA teams up with the University of Texas at Arlington’s division for enterprise development for continued education. The project aims to offer 17 career training courses that provide certifications in less than six months. The three-year program is expected to help prepare women for entry-level careers such as pharmacy technicians, certified nursing assistants and medical administrative assistants.
The first group of scholarship recipients will be selected this summer. They will begin classes in the fall. News of the grant was promoted on social media.
“They can earn enough to support themselves and their children, and often [the jobs] come with benefits, which makes an enormous difference,” Klocek said.
Struggling with poverty
Scholarship recipients will be selected from the YWCA Arlington Rapid Re-Housing program and from mothers served at the Arlington child development center. The rehousing program places homeless women and their children in permanent housing. That program also helps stabilize families with financial assistance such as rental help and case management, said Nichole Henry, the YWCA’s director of housing services.
About 10 Arlington families now receive the housing assistance, Henry said.
About 61 percent of the women served have no more than a high school diploma or GED certificate, according to the YWCA. Many only qualify for low-wage or minimum-wage jobs, so the job retraining program will offer hope for better futures, Henry said.
“Women can work full time at minimum wage and not really make traction,” Klocke said, adding that these jobs will start at $14 or $17 an hour or even higher.
Henry said women struggle to rebuild lives after ending up homeless. The women end up homeless for a variety of reasons, including loss of jobs, domestic violence and disasters such as fires, Henry said.
“Sometimes you get those calls where it’s the mom calling and they’ve been sleeping in their car for weeks,” Henry said. “We try to get them into a shelter as soon as possible, and then we start the housing process.”
The new program allows the woman and families to emerge from poverty, Henry said.
“For a lot of the women, opportunities like this can really change the direction of their lives and provide hope,” Henry said.
Training for a new career
Brandie Green, assistant director of the Health Careers Institute at UT Arlington, said the project taps into an existing worker shortage in the healthcare industry.
“It is pretty much across all jobs,” Green said.
At the institute, students train in entry-level health fields, she said. Often, they are seeking a second chance at a career. The training is accelerated and offered in day and evening classes, she said. Students will also participate in “externships” at hospitals or clinics to gain hands-on experience, she said. The externship is an unpaid learning opportunity similar to an internship.
“I am excited about this program,” Green said. “I am excited about what this will do for the women residents in Arlington.”
Klocek said education can transform the lives of women and children struggling with poverty.
“We are not just helping them today, but it is into that next generation, which is what our YWCA is all about,” Klocek said.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675