Helping Single Moms Climb the Career Ladder

Friday, November 09, 2018

Forty percent of families headed by single moms in Wyoming live in poverty. For more than 30 years, Climb Wyoming has been working to address this problem with a unique workforce development approach.

Commencement Climb Wyoming’s mission is to help low-income single mothers become self-sufficient through career training and job placement. The PRECorp Foundation has established a powerful partnership with the nonprofit through a substantial annual contribution to support its programs to strengthen both at-risk families and the state’s workforce.

The PRECorp Foundation and Basin Electric, PRECorp’s wholesale energy provider and community partner, recently contributed $10,000 to Climb Wyoming. The nonprofit’s results align with the foundation’s mission to demonstrate commitment to individuals and nonprofit or charitable organizations in northeast Wyoming by lending a helping hand that will improve their quality of life or service to their community.

Such contributions and community support make the program possible. They also demonstrate to participants that someone believes in their capabilities — that someone cares enough to invest in them.

According to Climb Wyoming Program Staff Katie Hogarty, this makes a world of difference.

“Knowing someone is investing in you can be life-changing,” she says.

Climb Wyoming has six locations throughout the state. Its Gillette program, established in 2004, has impacted 302 women and 653 children.

Each of Climb’s locations focuses on helping fill critical job training gaps in its service area. It identifies areas of need by looking at industry trends and doing outreach in the communities it serves.

The Gillette office has placed an emphasis on short-haul truck driving, warehouse technology and healthcare careers. It recently added a professional workflow specialist training, which includes a range of useful job skills such as customer service, timekeeping and computer troubleshooting as well as learning important software like Microsoft Office and QuickBooks.

Hogarty points to a success story that came out of this new training. Before becoming a Climb Wyoming participant, Stephanie was working in a part-time retail position, making just over $1000 a month. After her training, she got a great job with a communications company and nearly tripled her wages.

“The aspect that was most exciting for her was to break the cycle of generational poverty that her family has been stuck in,” says Hogarty. “She knew she wanted a different life for her daughter.”

Climb Wyoming works with community partners to identify good candidates for the program. This might mean meeting prospective participants at places they receive services, such as the WIC or public health offices.

Hogarty describes the application process as “intense.” Since it’s a free program and women only have one chance to complete it, Climb Wyoming staff want to ensure they’re ready to maximize the opportunity and resources available to them.

The 13-week training involves four days a week of specific education, dependent on the track women choose, and one day a week with Climb staff to learn general skills like how to create a resume, problem solve, budget and interview.

Unlike most job training programs, participants go through Climb Wyoming with a group of about 10 peers. This group setting allows them to practice skills in real time. It also helps establish a network of support, which is key, according to Hogarty.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around how isolating it is to be a single mom in Wyoming,” she says. “One of the neatest things I’ve seen is the long lasting friendships that come out of the program. They can talk to each other and just vent. Or help each other brainstorm and solve problems.”

Whether it’s help with a ride to work, daycare or just a sympathetic ear, growing these types of healthy relationships enables people to succeed in the long term and excel at their jobs.

Hogarty adds that clients who complete the program are always considered Climb Moms. Every month the organization hosts a meal where graduates can connect and network with one another. Moms can continue to access support from the organization. “We’ll always be there for them. We believe this is a long-term investment,” she says.

Powder River Energy Corporation (PRECorp) is known as northeastern Wyoming’s preferred energy provider. The nonprofit cooperative also works diligently with its member owners to improve the communities it serves. PRECorp has developed powerful partnerships with private, public and nonprofit organizations. These collaborative efforts aim to strengthen communities and create a more diverse economy.

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