A Publication of WTVP

As Goodwill of Central Illinois’ Beyond Jobs program manager, Brenda Wilder has already seen more than 100 local women take the first steps to improving their and their families’ lives through the organization’s free employment training and support program launched earlier this year. Funded by a grant through the Walmart Foundation, Beyond Jobs aims to connect unemployed and underemployed women with respected employers—building brighter futures for all involved.

What inspired the creation of the Beyond Jobs program?
Beyond Jobs was created by the Walmart Foundation, and a pilot program was implemented in 2010 by Goodwills in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles County, New York City and Detroit. The goal of Beyond Jobs was to empower single mothers with the tools they needed to find employment, succeed in the workplace and permanently support their families. In addition to job training and placement, the program offered support by designing individualized plans that outlined how participants could retain their jobs, advance in their careers, and ensure long-term financial stability for themselves and their children.

How did it come to be implemented in central Illinois?
Goodwill Industries International solicited grant applications to participate in the expanded Beyond Jobs program. Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois applied for the grant and was one of 45 Goodwills chosen to participate.

How does this program benefit local women?
Beyond Jobs benefits women by connecting them with area employers, but much more is involved. Goodwill helps them identify what soft skills they have and how to articulate those skills during an interview. We provide a talent assessment through ACT WorkKeys. This assessment shows each person their strengths and areas of improvement. We also offer an array of either in-person or online courses to help these women develop their skills.

Describe how you match participants with area employers.
Participants complete a personality assessment, plus a work history and resume review. Women also receive one-on-one interaction to help define their skills and aspirations. At the same time, we are identifying those jobs that need to be filled in the community. If we see that someone is a direct fit for a particular job, we will have her come in and will help her apply for that job.

Which local businesses are you currently working with?
Goodwill, Green Diamond Apartments, Macy’s, Alliance Benefit Group, JC Penney, Affordable Dentures, Manpower, OSF, Kmart, Pekin Public Library and Menards.

How many women have signed up to participate thus far?

What kind of jobs have participants been matched to?
Our participants have filled positions in retail, housekeeping, and the clerical field.

What happens after an employer and employee have been matched?
The Beyond Jobs participant will apply for the job and continue through the application process.

From which types of industries are you looking to recruit employers?
Any industry would be welcome, as we have a wide array of women with various skills.

How many employers are you hoping to recruit?
We want as many employers to participate as possible.

How do employers benefit from participating in the program?
The biggest advantages to the employer are the background checks and skill assessments that we perform. These functions are usually done by the employer’s HR department, but with Beyond Jobs, we eliminate those tasks.

How will Goodwill continue to support both employees and employers once a match is made?
Goodwill staff will stay connected to the participants throughout their time in the program. Follow-up and troubleshooting is critical to the success of this program.

What hopes do you have for the local Beyond Jobs program over the next year and beyond?
Our goal is to connect at least 100 women with jobs within the next year. And while the Beyond Jobs program technically ends on December 31, 2014, our hope is that we can continue this program in some capacity beyond that date. There are many unemployed and underemployed women in our community that can benefit from it.

What kind of impact do you think the program will have on the central Illinois economy and community in the long run?
Employment is crucial to strengthening the economy. The Beyond Jobs program promotes not only finding employment, but also maintaining it.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Goodwill of Central Illinois’ website,, provides potential employers with the number of applicants available in multiple categories. Categories include: Administrative/Clerical, Food/Beverage/Hospitality, Medical/Health, Production/Factory, Retail/Management and Sales/Marketing. iBi

For additional information regarding the Beyond Jobs program, contact Brenda Wilder at (309) 682-1113, ext. 2124.