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Here Are the Latest Big Stories from Goodwill Industries’ Newsroom

goodwill logoNow in its 12th decade, Goodwill Industries continues to make an impact in communities nationwide through its programs and activities that help people live more independent and fulfilling lives. Today, corporations, staff members, and community supporters help advance the organization’s work, which focuses on providing job training for youth, seniors, veterans, and individuals with disabilities or criminal backgrounds. As Goodwill prepares for another year of service, take a look at some of the group’s recent news highlights.

 

General Motors Invests in Job-Training Initiatives

Thanks to an investment of nearly a half-million dollars from General Motors, Goodwill organizations in three US communities are adding or expanding job-training programs for local residents. With the investment, Goodwill and General Motors have launched the GoodProspects for Careers initiative, which will be implemented at Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, Goodwill Central Texas (Austin), and Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona (Phoenix).

GoodProspects will focus on building specific job skills needed in each community. In Detroit, Goodwill is partnering with Henry Ford College to help individuals earn an automotive technician certification. For their part in the initiative, Goodwill Central Texas and Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona will both offer digital skills and computer literacy training to help job seekers enter careers in the IT field.

 

Goodwill Industries Recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Since its founding in 1902, Goodwill Industries has become a national leader in providing career training and support services for individuals with disabilities. Currently, Goodwill employs over 28,000 people who tackle each workday while dealing with some sort of cognitive or physical disability. Each year, the organization highlights the importance of advocating for people with disabilities by taking part in National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which is observed every October.

In 2018, the NDEAM theme of “America’s Workforce: Empowering All” aligns perfectly with Goodwill’s mission to help all job seekers develop the knowledge and skills needed to find employment. Goodwill commemorates NDEAM by highlighting the ways in which American workers with disabilities contribute to various industries. Goodwill also uses the month-long awareness event to call for additional support services aimed at reducing the unemployment rate among those with disabilities, which is more than double that of individuals without physical or mental impairments.

 

National and Local PSAs Celebrate Goodwill Shoppers

For the last five years, the Ad Council has partnered with Goodwill to raise awareness of the organization’s programs focused on job skills and career development. In September 2018, Goodwill and the Ad Council announced the launch of a new national ad campaign called Bring Good Home. Through print, TV, and digital PSAs, Bring Good Home highlights how each purchase made by a Goodwill shopper helps fund local initiatives that prepare people for careers in various industries, including retail, information technology, manufacturing, and health care.

In addition to the national ads, the campaign features social media activations that encourage people to share their favorite Goodwill finds using the hashtag #BringGoodHome. The advertising agency Digitas created the campaign, which is supported by digital media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Teemo. Since the Ad Council and Goodwill began its partnership, the resulting PSAs have helped drive over 360 million pounds of donations to local Goodwill organizations across the country.

 

Walmart Foundation Grant Extends Operation: GoodJobs Program

In its efforts to help veterans and military families gain financial stability, Goodwill Industries oversees Operation: GoodJobs, a national initiative that helps people overcome the sometimes-difficult transition from military service to the civilian workforce. Launched in 2012, the initiative was developed using a $1 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. Following a successful pilot program in two states, the Foundation provided an additional $5 million to expand services into 12 communities.

Since its launch, Operation: GoodJobs has reached over 7,800 people in California, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. In May 2018, the Walmart Foundation gave Goodwill another $5 million grant to continue the program for an additional three years. With the grant, Goodwill has expanded Operation: GoodJobs to include South Carolina. The next phase of the program will focus on providing career-development resources and job training for female veterans, who are among the fastest-growing groups in the veteran community.

 

Goodwill Takes Home Award for Social Media Campaign

Goodwill Industries recently partnered with Sony Pictures Entertainment on a social media campaign that reached millions of people through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms. The Spider-Man-themed initiative challenged social media users to create their own Spider-Man costumes using materials sourced entirely from Goodwill stores and/or the organization’s online auction site, shopgoodwill.com.

The success of the campaign caught the attention of Engage for Good, which oversees the Halo Awards to acknowledge outstanding social impact programs from businesses and nonprofit groups. For its work, Goodwill was awarded the 2018 Silver Halo Award in the Best Social Media Activation Initiative category. In total, the campaign reached over 9 million social media users and chalked up an impressive 828,000 views on YouTube.

More information about Goodwill’s recent activities is available at www.goodwill.org.

 

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Top Ways You Can Support Your Local Goodwill

For over 115 years, Goodwill Industries has been helping individuals and families reach their full potential. The organization does this by investing profits from local Goodwill locations into various programs focused on employment, education, and skills training.

In 2017 alone, Goodwill helped connect over 288,000 people with employment in various industries, including information technology, banking, and healthcare. Additionally, more than 2.1 million people used Goodwill services for career advancement and financial guidance in 2017. Another 30,000 individuals turned to a local Goodwill organization for help in earning credentials such as training certificates and college degrees.

While Goodwill remains committed to its mission to strengthen communities, the nonprofit cannot accomplish its goals alone. The organization receives government grants as well as corporate and foundational support. However, it is most dependent on the donations and assistance it receives from individuals in communities across the country.

If you’re interested in joining those helping to advance Goodwill’s mission, you can do so in a number of ways. Here are some of the things you can do right now to get involved:

Donate Items to a Local Goodwill Organization

One of the easiest ways to support the nonprofit is by donating items that you and your family no longer need to a local Goodwill organization. Goodwill is happy to accept a wide range of items, including toys, clothing, books, home décor, electronics, and furniture.

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Image courtesy Mike Mozart | Flickr

Before making your donation, it’s important to inspect the items to ensure that they are in working order and include any necessary parts. Also, while clothing and furniture certainly don’t need to be in perfect condition, items that are free of large rips, holes, and stains will likely do the most good. Goodwill also suggests that would-be donors contact their local organization before donating items such as computers, vehicles, and mattresses to see if there are any rules concerning these types of donations.

To find the nearest Goodwill, donors can visit the organization’s website and use the locator tool at the top of the homepage. Those who are unable to visit a location in person may be able to request a donation pickup. A simple phone call can help you find out if pickup service is available in your area.

Goodwill also maintains donation bins, which are a convenient option for many people. However, the organization recommends that donors inspect bins before dropping off any items to ensure that they are maintained by Goodwill rather than a for-profit group.

Volunteer Your Time or Contribute Financially

If you’re looking to give back to your community, volunteering at a local Goodwill is a great way to do just that. The organization offers opportunities for people to volunteer online or in person.

Professionals can assist people interested in entering their career field by working as a virtual career mentor for GoodProspects. This online community assists jobseekers and those looking to grow in their profession.

Goodwill also oversees a national youth mentoring program, GoodGuides. This program provides guidance and support to help at-risk youth 12 to 17 years of age make positive decisions. GoodGuides welcomes both peer and adult mentors who can devote one hour a week to the program.

Along with volunteering, you can support Goodwill by making a one-time or recurring cash donation online, by phone, or via traditional mail. Goodwill gratefully accepts donations of all sizes and gives donors the option of directing their funds to a local organization or its national programs and activities.

In addition to accepting direct financial contributions, Goodwill oversees a planned giving program for those who would like to include Goodwill in their wills or declare the organization a beneficiary of their retirement plan. More information about the program and how your donations are put to good use is available at www.goodwill.org/give.

Work as a Goodwill Advocate

Through its Advocacy Action Center, Goodwill Industries advances public policy that supports job training and employee placement programs in local communities. Currently, Goodwill is working to promote and advance key human services issues to help older workers, individuals with criminal backgrounds, and veterans overcome barriers to gainful employment. The organization also advocates for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program and employment opportunities for young people.

In addition to its activities in the areas of workforce development and job creation, Goodwill Industries works with members of Congress and other key decision makers to protect charitable giving incentives and develop legislation regarding the disposal of electronic waste. Moreover, the organization protects employer priorities as an advocate for the AbilityOne program. AbilityOne provides employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities or visual impairment.

Those interested in getting involved can join the efforts by registering as an advocate online to receive updates about the organization’s latest advocacy activities. Goodwill advocates can also reach out to their local elected officials and political candidates to share why it’s important to protect opportunities for working families.

Featured Image courtesy Mike Mozart | Flickr

Top 4 Ways Goodwill Is Promoting Better Education Nationwide

Thanks to its various social services programs, the reach of Goodwill Industries extends far beyond its thrift stores. The organization uses the money it generates from sales of donated items to help people improve their lives and become valuable members of their communities.

With much of its focus on ensuring that individuals are positioned for future success, Goodwill has had education as one of its programming priorities since it first launched well over a century ago. Today, the nonprofit group remains focused on providing valuable learning opportunities for people of all ages.

Here are some of the top ways that Goodwill promotes education in the hundreds of communities it serves throughout the United States:

 

  1. Providing Free Learning Opportunities

One of Goodwill’s most accessible learning programs is offered at GCFLearnFree.org, a free educational website launched by the Goodwill Community Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Eastern NC Inc. On the site, visitors can access a library of more than 2,000 lessons covering over 180 topics in areas such as technology, literacy, and math. To enhance each lesson, the site also features over 800 educational videos and 55 interactive games and activities.

Some of the academic topics covered at GCFLearnFree include basic addition and subtraction, English grammar, algebra, and reading. Much of the site, however, is focused on helping people build 21st-century skills. The subjects taught in this area range from computer basics and email to digital photography, cloud computing, and graphic design. In addition, GCFLearnFree includes a number of tutorials on Microsoft Office programs.

Along with the tech tutorials and lessons in reading and math, the site provides resources for career support and everyday living. The tutorials and interactive lessons in these areas focus on career planning, job search, and money management. Lessons on work skills, food and cooking, and health and safety are also available.

 

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  1. Educating Adults Who Are Pursuing Their High School Diplomas

While recent statistics show a reduction in high school dropout rates nationwide, approximately 30 million American adults are still without diplomas, and another 3 million people drop out each year. Goodwill organizations throughout the country are doing their part to help these individuals finish their high school education by providing various programs and resources in local communities.

Many Goodwill locations oversee adult learning centers or provide no-cost adult education classes that prepare adult learners for the GED exam. In Indiana, which has one of the highest dropout rates in the country, Goodwill Industries, Inc., launched The Excel Center, a tuition-free public high school for adults. With drop-in childcare, supportive staff, and flexible scheduling that includes both day and night classes, The Excel Center is designed specifically for adults working to earn their diplomas while keeping up with work and family responsibilities.

The success of the original Center site in Indianapolis led Goodwill to open additional locations in Indiana along with other sites in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Washington, DC. In the Indiana location’s first decade, more than 3,000 adults earned their high school diplomas through The Goodwill Excel Center. Nearly all (97 percent) of the Center’s graduates also went on to earn college credits or job-related certifications.

 

  1. 3. Ensuring Young People Have the Knowledge and Skills to Succeed

In addition to assisting adult learners, Goodwill organizations nationwide work with various community partners to promote youth education. Examples include Goodwill Industries of Denver, which works with several area schools to educate and prepare at-risk students for their future careers. The organization’s youth programs provide education and training in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. Goodwill of Denver also provides mentoring to help students prepare for and succeed in college.

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Michigan (SEMI) is another organization that is dedicated to helping local youth. Over the years, SEMI has partnered with businesses and other nonprofits to support community literacy projects. In 2017, the organization distributed more than 7.5 tons of children’s books throughout the community. SEMI also helps lead the Read to Feed program, which provides books for area schools that collect food for local food pantries.

 

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  1. Leading the Way in Career-Related Education

As part of its efforts to help people overcome barriers to employment, Goodwill Industries directs a large percentage of its resources toward career-related education. At the Goodwill Career and Technical Academy in Austin, Texas, individuals can pursue career certifications in numerous industries, including health care, technology, and business. The Academy also offers accelerated certification programs in skilled construction trades.

Alongside local work-related programs, Goodwill oversees several national initiatives to educate American workers. Many of Goodwill’s activities in recent years have focused on equipping people with the digital skills needed in the modern workforce.

In 2017, the organization launched the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator, a Google-funded initiative that will ultimately help over 1 million people learn computer support, programming, and other tech-related skills. Goodwill is also partnering with Google and Coursera to help prepare people age 17 and older for careers in IT support.

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.