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Posted on November 01, 2018 • Category: News Release

Walmart Makes $1.5M in Grants to Accelerate Regional Plan to Create Long-term Career Opportunities for Arizonans, Deliver Upskilling Resources to Maryvale & Greater Maricopa County

Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) and Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) of Phoenix today joined with leaders from Arizona's retail sector and workforce development community to expand collaborative efforts to increase workers’ economic mobility, and announce Walmart’s commitment of $1.5 million in grant funding to accelerate the implementation of a regional plan that supports long-term career opportunities in retail and other growing sectors for Arizonans.

The RetailWorks AZ and Maryvale+Workforce initiatives received funding support from Walmart Giving’s Retail Opportunity Initiative since both focus on enhancing the talent development ecosystem and decreasing unemployment through engagement with employers in retail and other key industries.

“Walmart’s partnership with our state’s workforce community creates a tremendous opportunity to provide sustainable career mobility and advancement for so many Arizonans, which will have a lasting impact on the quality of life for them and their families,” said Sybil Francis, President & CEO, Center for the Future of Arizona. “Our shared work and whole systems approach to help ‘rewire’ the ecosystem, address root causes and engage all partners (employees, employers, workforce development, education, government and associations) will help Arizona make meaningful changes to build a healthy ecosystem for retail and other important growth industry sectors.”

In 2015, a trade analysis for the Greater Phoenix area indicated that Retail was the third largest employer in the region (after Government and Healthcare) with more than 229,000 people working in the sector. The retail sector contributed just under $16 billion to the gross regional product in 2015—a contribution comparable to the manufacturing, finance and healthcare sectors.

“With generous support from Walmart, CPLC is leveraging the strengths of the youthful, diverse and family-oriented Maryvale community to help its members and businesses rise to their potential,” said David Adame, CEO, Chicanos Por La Causa. “The intersection of CPLC’s retail sector work and that of CFA’s makes for a great fit as we partner to contribute to the broader regional workforce vision, which will help lift all job seekers into sustainable employment and fruitful career pathways that are responsive to employer needs.”

RetailWorks AZ, an initiative of CFA, brings education and training together to support frontline, entry-level retail workers in their career advancement. It supports the important role that the retail sector plays in Arizona’s economy and in the lives of many Arizonans whose first job experience and professional skills are acquired in retail. RetailWorks AZ was awarded $1.2 million from Walmart to expand and scale the initiative through investments in worker upskilling programs, provided by local employers and workforce development partners, to retain and advance workers in retail.

The Maryvale+Workforce Initiative, led by CPLC Workforce Solutions, is focused on preparing unemployed Maryvale residents for careers and upskilling workers to decrease the high unemployment rate in the Maryvale area—especially among young people. The initiative was awarded $247,900 from Walmart to expand intensive direct services to help residents of Maryvale forge and navigate personalized blueprints to sustainable careers.

As part of its work, a new “CPLC Engagement Center” is planned to open inside Desert Sky Mall in Maryvale later this year with a grand opening slated for January 2019. The 8,000-square-foot space will be open 364 days per year and will feature classrooms, offices and open space for community-centered activities and workforce services for all job seekers, with a special emphasis on opportunity youth. Through the Engagement Center, CPLC will expand its career pathways training classes in retail, banking and customer service, in addition to hosting GED and ELL classes. New trainings also will be developed in response to business and job seeker needs and will include upskilling classes open to all mall employees.

“Walmart comes to this work with a belief in shared value, the idea that companies can maximize their business performance when they address society’s most important challenges. We use our unique strengths to drive whole systems change, which is led through the business and supplemented by Walmart Giving’s philanthropic investments,” said Paula Ginnett, Regional General Manager & Vice President, Walmart. “In 2015, we announced a $2.7 billion investment in training, education and wages for our associates, as well as a $100-million philanthropic Retail Opportunity initiative, which is integral to our support of CFA and CPLC in Arizona.”

About Chicanos Por La Causa Workforce Solutions

CPLC Workforce Solutions strengthens the local workforce and connects job seekers with sustainable employment that will lead to life-long success. CPLC’s bilingual staff helps job seekers with all aspects of obtaining and keeping a job including General Adult Education classes (GED), occupational training, job placement assistance and supportive services. In addition, CPLC’s Opportunity Youth Initiative focuses on assisting disconnected youth with work experience opportunities, job placements, training and a host of other services.

About the Center for the Future of Arizona

The Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) is helping define and shape Arizona’s future through an action-oriented agenda that focuses on issues critical to the state. CFA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “do tank” that combines research with collaborative partnerships and initiatives that drive the state’s economic prosperity, quality of life and civic health, and create a better future for all Arizonans. For more information, visit @arizonafuture