A snack and beverage giant is joining forces with Dallas nonprofits to help hundreds of women in Southern Dallas.
The new Women’s Workforce Initiative is part of the larger Southern Dallas Thrives program, which has been in place for a few years now.
The initiative is accepting applications and will soon select 550 women to receive education and job training skills to "get and keep" living wage jobs.
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This will be an investment in the women of Southern Dallas over the next three years.
For beverage giant PepsiCo Frito-Lay, says it’s about improving its home base.
“When more than 25% of PepsiCo’s 6,500 North Texas’ employees live in southern Dallas, this is about investing in our home and our community,” said Rebecca Acuna, director of government affairs for PepsiCo.
A collaboration of four partners is involved in the multi-pronged approach to bringing about lasting change.
"We weren't going to settle for business as usual. We knew we needed to be disruptive and aggressive and so I think there was a real desire from all of us to take action and make a difference," said John Siburt, CEO of CitySquare.
According to the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, one in three people in Southern Dallas live in poverty.
More than one in 10 single mothers are unemployed and lack access to childcare which is necessary to qualify for more than 42,000 unfilled jobs in the area, according to CitySquare.
Making matters worse, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many women have been forced out of work to care for their children.
“Many women that may have had jobs that they were getting-by, some of those jobs will not come back. They’re ones that have been automated,” said Susan Hoff, chief strategy and impact officer at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “That is going to impact our economy and our corporate community because quite honestly, we need those talented women in the workforce.”
Hoff said 550 women will be selected for the Southern Dallas Thrives’ Women’s Workforce Initiative.
The women will receive the necessary social support, technical and soft-skills training needed to secure employment in high-growth industries.
“We are intentionally focused on these sectors where jobs are available so we’re looking at sectors like advanced manufacturing, logistics, sales, marketing, food and hospitality industries,” said Acuna.
Dallas College will provide the technical training with classes happening on its campuses and at CitySquare. The training will take from three months to 12 months depending on the career path.
"In just a short period of time, you can gain so much for the rest of your life. You can have this training certificate in hand. You can have these skills in these current careers that are open now and take that, make that a career with a good salary and hopefully, even great benefits for your and your family."
The women will also receive resume-building skills, financial coaching, transportation and even help with child care, at no cost. CitySquare is also ready to provide food and health care if needed.
"We know that if we're gonna change the trajectory of people's lives in Dallas, if we're gonna deal with the pervasive issue of poverty, we have to be aggressive and bold in our action and in our aspirations," Siburt said. "We know that women are underemployed in this city and women in the southern sector, in particular, don't have access to the social support and employment opportunities they need. So, if we can target this population and we can create a way and a path for women in Southern Dallas, we will lift families out of poverty and we will change the trajectory of people's lives in Dallas, Texas."
The United Way hopes this will bridge existing gaps in the region.
“There’s not always transportation to get to good-paying jobs,” said Hoff. “Even things like grocery stores.”
Hoff said her hope for the women is that ‘every single one of them is going to be successful,’ and that other corporations step up and invest in people.
“Because 550 women is amazing, but there are 10 times that many women who will benefit, not only benefit from the support but also be tremendous assets to our community,” said Hoff.
The program is set to get underway this summer. To apply, click here.