In response to the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks, rocker Bruce Springsteen implored us to “Come on up for the rising.” In his 2015 musical “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda implored others to “rise up.”

Goodwill and United Way in the Quad-Cities are both picking up the hopeful, aspirational “Rising” theme in two new initiatives, aiming for a better post-pandemic world for us all.

Goodwill and United Way in Quad-Cities Primed for New “Rising”

Goodwill of the Heartland (which serves 19 counties, including the Q-C) is part of the new national “Rising Together” effort.

Goodwill, the leading workforce provider in North America, on Tuesday announced a new, first-of-its-kind coalition called Rising Together, which will work to create an equitable economic recovery and provide job seekers with the skills and supports needed to access sustainable jobs.

Joining Goodwill with a goal of empowering one million people to access sustainable careers by 2025 are Fortune 50 companies and global philanthropic and business leaders, including the Anthem Foundation, Coursera, Google, Indeed and Lyft.

Together, Goodwill and its partners are providing resources to address the widening skills gap and the negative impact of the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic. The Rising Together coalition will provide a combination of workforce services and supports, as well as build and expand upon programs that address the inequities and systemic barriers facing workers in our society the most, according to its release.

Goodwill and United Way in Quad-Cities Primed for New “Rising”

United Way Quad Cities is leading the new “Rise United” campaign to improve local health, education and income.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.3 million women have left the labor force, a phenomenon that is being called the “shecession,” and many others remain out of work and without the skills needed to gain new employment. Nationwide, pandemic-related job loss has also had a disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic men and women as well as those who do not have post-high school education.

In Iowa, the disparity in unemployment claims by gender over the course of the pandemic began in April of last year. According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, at that time women comprised 56.6% of people collecting unemployment insurance, while men accounted for 40.9%. Although the disparity reported decreased during 2020, the cause is not that women were entering the workplace, rather, it was due to women leaving the workforce entirely. Minorities in Iowa have also been negatively impacted.

As of March, 2021, blacks — who comprise 4% of Iowa residents — accounted for 12% of unemployment claims. Likewise, Hispanics — who account for 6% of Iowa’s population — have filed 11% of unemployment claims.

The new coalition will use its combined hiring strength to support the holistic needs of job seekers — from providing essential transportation and broadband access to offering training opportunities and job search skills.

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Rising Together jump-starts a vision for a future where there is a pathway to opportunity that is accessible by all. Together with Goodwill:

  • Anthem Foundation will launch a healthcare career path training that will benefit thousands of individuals over the course of two years. The program will build healthcare employee pipelines while supporting healthcare workers affected by the pandemic. The training will ultimately lead to credentials, job placements, wage increases and benefits.
  • Coursera, through its social impact program, will provide 2,000 scholarships to those hard-hit by the economic turndown, including people who are impacted by the criminal justice system, veterans and youth learners. Scholarship recipients will have free access to 4,000 courses as well as hands-on projects and professional certificates that teach job-relevant skills across business, technology and data science.
  • Google will continue to support Goodwill in its efforts to deliver digital skills training across the United States through programs such as Google Career Certificates, which help job seekers prepare for in-demand jobs in less than six months without the need for a college degree or prior experience. Since 2017, more than 100 local Goodwill organizations have implemented the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator in their communities, equipping more than one million people with digital skills and placing more than 170,000 of those individuals into employment.
  • Indeed will help job seekers who are often overlooked or face challenges to finding work with skills-based assessments, job seeker support and employer hiring events. Indeed will work with Goodwill on a fellowship for women who have had to leave the workforce or were reduced to part-time work due to Covid-19 (either voluntarily or involuntarily). Goodwill’s collaboration with Indeed will also include the launch of the Indeed + Goodwill Digital Resource Guide, which will equip Goodwill organizations with best practices and recommendations on how to help people find jobs at Goodwill organizations and other employers.
  • Lyft will continue investing in its LyftUp Jobs Access program, which launched in 2019 with a coalition of partners including Goodwill, to provide individuals access to the transportation they need to get to interviews, job training and/or the first weeks of work. To date, the program has supported job seekers with access to tens of thousands of rides.

“As we celebrate Mother’s Day, millions of women, mothers and families across North America are struggling, even as the country works

Goodwill and United Way in Quad-Cities Primed for New “Rising”

The Goodwill store at 2333 Cumberland Square Drive, Bettendorf.

toward recovery,” said Pat Airy, Goodwill of the Heartland CEO.

“We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive in life, but, today, too many people are left out of that opportunity,” she said. “We must ensure that people can equip themselves with the skills they need to compete for jobs in a changing economy. The Rising Together coalition is providing training and other critical services directly to the communities who need them the most.”

Goodwill of the Heartland serves 19 counties, including the Quad-Cities area.

In December 2020, it announced a donation of $10 million from billionaire writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott as part of over $4 billion she presented to 384 organizations across the nation.

This was the largest single gift to Goodwill of the Heartland in its 55-year history, the nonprofit said in a release. The investment came at a time when more than 10 million Americans are unemployed and urgently need help finding their next jobs.

Goodwill is dedicated to closing the skills gap and eliminating the associated challenges created by inequities. “This generous gift will be used to help those who need it the most, including people of color, low-wage workers, workers with low educational attainment, people with disabilities, veterans and people impacted by the criminal justice system, among others,” the organization said then.

“Rise United” to launch Thursday

On Thursday morning, United Way Quad Cities will host a public launch of the new “Rise United” campaign — a community-wide collaborative effort to improve racial equity and quality of life for Quad Citizens. Spearheaded by United Way Quad Cities, the goal is to

Goodwill and United Way in Quad-Cities Primed for New “Rising”

The community-wide launch of “Rise United” will start at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 6 at Deere & Company’s Moline headquarters.

achieve measurable improvements in education, health and income in 10 years.

The Rise United initiative is designed to help all Quad Citizens, regardless of race or ZIP code, have the opportunity and access to achieve their potential.

Students who have fallen behind in reading by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school – all but eliminating their successful pathway to college or career, according to United Way’s Facebook page.

“We know that TOGETHER we can RISE UNITED to achieve more success for generations to come,” the group says. The new community-wide initiative will launch May 6 at Deere & Company World Headquarters, One John Deere Place, Moline.

The featured speakers will be:

  • Mara Downing, Incoming United Way Board Chair, Vice President, Global Brand and Communications, John Deere
  • Ryan Campbell, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, John Deere
  • Dr. LaDrina Wilson, Founder/CEO, Iman Consulting, United Way 2021 Community Campaign Tri-Chair
  • Rene Gellerman, President and CEO, United Way Quad Cities

You can register to watch a livestream of the event at https://www.unitedwayqc.org/civicrm/event/register?reset=1&id=96.

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Goodwill and United Way in Quad-Cities Primed for New “Rising”
Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.