Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with the Hampton Roads Community Action Program (HRCAP), based in Newport News, VA, to discuss a unique pilot program. HRCAP’s Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Otey Jr.; Assistant Director of Support Services, Cynthia Randall-Young; and Director of Program Innovation and Transformation, Monique Moore all took time to share about one of HRCAP’s many labors of love – a weatherization-focused workforce development program.
Through its Community Needs Assessment and regular interactions with clients and the community, HRCAP identified a growing need in their community for a workforce program dedicated to weatherization. The Virginia Peninsula area is geographically isolated and can be difficult to reach, having a strong local weatherization workforce is essential to both the program and local communities.
Developing a new pilot program is no small feat and this one was no different. Though the agency had an established workforce development program, additional funds were needed to stand up a new pilot program. Fortunately, the Dominion Energy Share Workforce Development Program awarded $600,000 in funding. Through this one-time grant opportunity, HRCAP’s weatherization-specific construction training program began to take shape.
Another partner HRCAP works with to issue cohort participants with industry-recognized credentials and certificates is Condensed Curriculum International (CCI). According to CCI’s website, it provides “comprehensive education and workforce development services”, including educational content, internship, externship placement, and more. Over the course of 6-8 weeks, HRCAP trains participants with job-readiness skills and provides scholarships for CCI courses. Courses include basic math, writing, and reading skills. HRCAP offers paid internships and externships and partners with CCI when additional sites are needed for participants. Cohort participants receive career readiness certificates upon completion of both HRCAP and CCI coursework.
The Pilot Workforce Development Construction Cohort provides family-centered services to ensure the needs of the entire family are met. HRCAP has an agency-wide commitment to using the whole family and coaching approaches to case management. When individuals and families come in for services all are served – one family member may be in a workforce development program and another in HRCAP’s preschool / Head Start program and yet another may be receiving housing counseling. Using a coaching approach allows participants to choose the paths that work best for them and allows staff to come alongside them to offer support and resources. The eight fully employed program graduates are a testament to the strength of the program, the importance of partnerships, and HRCAP’s commitment to its community!