Spotlight on Goodwill’s Latest Efforts to Improve the World

goodwillWhile 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.

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Image by Megan | Flickr

 

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.

 

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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.

 

Promoting Sustainability

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.

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The Latest Research Highlights at the American Heart Association

americanheartassociationIn its efforts to save lives by improving cardiovascular-related care, the American Heart Association (AHA) aims to advance medical research in cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. The organization also supports research to develop prevention strategies and establish guidelines to help heart patients and other individuals improve and maintain their heart and brain health.

Since its founding more than nine decades ago, the AHA has invested over $4.1 billion in research that has led to a number of medical breakthroughs. Previous research funded by the organization has spurred the development of lifesaving drugs and treatments that are still in widespread use. The following provides an overview of how some of the organization’s recent activities are making an impact.

 

Advancing Understanding and Treatment of Congenital Heart Defects

Alongside the Children’s Heart Foundation, the AHA is supporting research to better understand and treat congenital heart defects (CHD), the leading cause of birth-defect-related deaths among infants born in the United States. The Children’s Heart Foundation and the AHA joined forces as part of their Congenital Heart Defect Research Awards program, established in 2014.

The AHA and the Children’s Heart Foundation have announced the recipients of the fourth round of funding offered through the CHD Research Awards. The seven research programs selected for the round of funding will receive a total of $826,600. To date, CHD Research Awards have provided more than $3.2 million to researchers in the United States, and funding for the program will continue through June 2021. Ultimately, the seven-year initiative will provide $22.5 million to advance CHD-related research.

 

Identifying Risk Factors for Heart Disease

heartEstablishing and promoting prevention strategies, treatments, and lifestyle changes to reduce the effect of heart disease is a major part of the AHA’s work. To help identify factors that play a role in heart-related health issues, the organization supports research focused on heart disease risk. The AHA and other groups have long associated unhealthy weight with heart attacks, but recent research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that waist and hip size may have a stronger association with heart attack risk than overall obesity.

Researchers in the study, which examined 500,000 adults in the UK, found that fat distribution around the abdomen is hazardous in both sexes, but it appears to have a more profound effect on women. The AHA notes that the distribution of fat and the differences in body types between men and women may play a role in heart attack risk later in life. The organization also suggests that future studies examining sex-specific interventions for obesity could help reduce the rates of heart disease.

 

Promoting the Use of Automated External Defibrillators

An automated external defibrillator (AED) delivers an electrical shock to restart the heart of a person in cardiac arrest. Recent research published in the AHA journal Circulation highlights the importance of AEDs in saving lives as well as the need for increased distribution and awareness of the devices.

According to the cardiac arrest chain of survival protocol established by the AHA, when attempting to save the life of someone whose heart has stopped beating, bystanders should employ an AED, after calling 911 and initiating CPR. The AHA is working to promote the use of AEDs through research and campaigns such as its Workplace Safety Training Initiative, launched in 2017. Leaders at the AHA are using the campaign and related activities to urge those in charge of businesses and other public buildings to place AEDs next to fire extinguishers so that bystanders can easily find them in an emergency.

 

Establishing New High Blood Pressure Guidelines

blood pressureBased on the review of more than 900 published studies, scientists and health experts with the AHA, American College of Cardiology (ACC), and nine other health organizations published new high blood pressure guidelines for the first time in 14 years. The new guidelines, which the AHA and ACC released in late 2017, call for interventions at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90. Under the new changes, the number of people diagnosed with high blood pressure will increase by 14 percent. The increase will be most prevalent among people under the age of 45.

Although the changes to the guidelines will lead to more hypertension diagnoses, the number of those requiring antihypertensive medication will not increase significantly. The new guidelines recommend that physicians address Stage 1 hypertension with lifestyle changes and prescribe medications only those at high risk of a cardiovascular event due to other factors.

High blood pressure damages the vascular system and plays a significant role in increasing heart attack and stroke risk. In lowering its definition, the AHA is promoting earlier treatment that could save lives by preventing blood-pressure-related health complications.