While most people in the United States are familiar with the Goodwill brand, many are unaware that the organization is much more than a national network of local thrift shops. Founded in 1902, Goodwill Industries International, Inc., oversees a wide range of social service programs and activities. The group’s primary focus is on providing career training and employment-placement services in order to help people overcome barriers preventing them from obtaining a job. Today, Goodwill is committed to helping individuals across the country to reach their full potential.
Following are a few of the recent ways that the organization has been working to help individuals and communities.
Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Economy
Every donation of clothing, toys, household goods, and other items dropped off at Goodwill stores helps to create opportunities for people in communities across the country. In 2016, the organization used the proceeds from retail sales of donated items to help place more than 313,000 people into jobs. Goodwill Industries also assisted more than 31,000 individuals in obtaining professional credentials that boosted their combined lifetime earning potential by over $14.9 billion. In addition to its work in creating jobs and economic opportunities in the United States, the organization maintains a presence in Mexico, Canada, and several other countries worldwide.
Offering Financial Resources and Career Training
One of the ways that Goodwill advances its mission to improve the lives of individuals and families is by offering career readiness and financial wellness programs. The organization offers job skills training, financial education, and counseling services both online and face-to-face in order to help people grow and maintain their assets. Over 36.5 million people received services from Goodwill in 2016 that helped them to advance their careers and improve their financial literacy.
Investing in the Retail Industry
As a retail-driven nonprofit that generates several billion dollars in sales annually, Goodwill has a vested interest in improving the nation’s retail industry. The organization helps boost retail in the United States by placing individuals in jobs at local Goodwill stores. Goodwill Industries also works with members of the business and nonprofit communities to invest in and retain retail employees.
In late February 2018, Goodwill launched a new retail initiative alongside the Walmart Foundation and the Hope Street Group. Supported by a $2.5 million investment from the Walmart Foundation, the GoodPaths initiative provides career coaching, training, mentoring, and other support services to equip people with the specific skills necessary to succeed as retail employees.
Supporting the IT Workforce
Goodwill, Google.org, and Coursera are leading an effort to ensure that job seekers have the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue careers in information technology. The three organizations are offering people 17 and older with the opportunity to earn the Google IT Support Professional Certificate, which requires eight to 12 months of IT job readiness training.
The certificate program is based on content created by Google and an online learning platform developed by Coursera. For its part, Goodwill is helping to recruit potential applicants at 18 of its US-based locations.
Accelerating 21st Century Digital Skills
Goodwill has also partnered with Google.org on a three-year initiative to provide digital skills training. Launched in October 2017, the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator will train over 1.2 million people in the digital skills that many employers are looking for in job applicants.
Trainees will include military veterans and family members, as well as individuals with disabilities and/or limited work experience. Google is advancing the initiative through a $10 million grant and the volunteer efforts of 1,000 employees. Over the course of the initiative, 125 Goodwill organizations will serve as Goodwill Digital Career Accelerators.
Advancing Adult Education
Goodwill Industries recognizes the important role that education has in helping people to achieve success. Since 2010, the organization has been assisting adults in earning their high school diplomas through The Excel Center.
In order to ensure that students are able to meet their educational goals, The Excel Center provides flexible scheduling and several support services, including childcare and transportation assistance. In 2017, the MacArthur Foundation selected Goodwill’s Excel Center proposal as one of the top problem-solving solutions submitted to its 100&Change competition. Since launching its first Excel Center in Indianapolis, Goodwill has opened more than a dozen additional locations in Indiana, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, Maryland, and Washington, DC.
Alongside its efforts to improve lives through education and career-readiness programs, Goodwill Industries focuses on promoting sustainability. Each year, donations to Goodwill locations across the country divert more than 3 billion pounds of items from the nation’s landfills. The organization’s commitment to the environment is also reflected in the Goodwill Sustainability Program, which pursues the goal to “Use Less, Serve More.”
Some examples of Goodwill’s sustainability efforts in local communities include Green Works, an industrial recycling facility operated by Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit. In addition to recycling metal and other industrial materials, Green Works provides transitional employment and on-the-job training to Detroit residents facing economic challenges.