A dynamic new partner has burst on the scene at ReCity Network, thanks to Eric Haddock and the team at NCWorks NEXTGEN.
A program of the Eckerd Connects, NCWorks NEXTGEN fulfills the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA). The legislation commits federal funding, to be disbursed and managed at state and local government level, for workforce development that creates employment opportunities for traditionally underserved communities.
The major focus of the program, according to its parent organization, is to connect in-school and out-of-school youth to career readiness, career guidance, remediation, community resources and employment and training opportunities. The NCWorks NEXTGEN Program provides skills necessary to gain and retain employment, directs individuals to careers that are in demand and promotes employment advancement to become self-sufficient.
The organization’s mission is to partner with businesses across Durham County to provide “work experiences” to area youth aged 17 to 24. According to Haddock, it’s the work experience concept that sets the organization apart. “The program provides funding for real jobs in industries our constituents may otherwise not gain access,” he said. “It provides funding for up to three-month experience, where we pay an amount equal to a typical starting salary in that industry. If, after three months, the youth participant and the corporate partner see a good fit, the company makes a permanent hire. Otherwise, it’s great experience and a quality reference for the participant’s resume moving forward.”
The organization also helps participants, based on needs, to obtain GEDs and/or job training.
Haddock sees benefits that go beyond the gaining of employment, to the empowerment of better lives for his participants. “We were privileged to place one of our participants at the emerging social media startup SpokeHub,” he explained. “She has done so well in the work experience that she is being considered for permanent employment and is in the process of leaving a shelter to live independently with her son. That’s a better career and a better life.”
Since joining ReCity in mid-November, Haddock has seen the power of collaboration at Durham’s hub for social impact. “Right away, we found synergy, not only in doing work together but in receiving guidance from some of the great leaders at ReCity,” said Haddock. “The H.E.A.R.T.S foundation, Housing for New Hope, and Step Up Durham have been especially good to us, helping us help our constituents. It helps to know when we’re working with the same kids as another ReCity organization, so that we know that the kids are finding stable support in all of their situations while we work on employment.”
NCWorks NEXTGEN has also worked with external agencies to take advantage of ReCity’s event space, already hosting a rap session with Durham Technical Community College to build awareness of Durham Tech’s free classes for job training.
The organization’s team is active, and their impact is clear. NCWorks has already developed
relationships with 28 area companies willing to participate in work experiences. 15 work experiences have taken place since the program’s launch last October, and Haddock says the group will serve 150 youth in 2018.
In addition to SpokeHub, the participating corporate partners come from a range of industries, some with national name recognition and others from every corner of the Durham business community. Partners include Meineke, H.E.A.R.T.S., KSE Scientific, Playground Studios, the Scrap Exchange, and ReCity partner Zweli’s Catering.