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Why America at Work, Inc. was started and who helped...

In 2004 Susan Main was running an award-winning staffing agency when she recognized the need to help many of her employment candidates, those that were 50 years of age and older, to overcome their barriers to gainful employment. She took this challenge to an individual in the business of ergonomics working with service disabled Veterans, Dorothy Devereaux, and broadened her original concept to include veterans and the disabled. After which an effort to bring together community partners began. A gathering of talented, like-minded individuals came together in September 2004 and the AAW’s concept grew from there as a community effort. By November 2004 the group was 20 strong and a retreat took place to form AAW’s strategy through a process called “The Path of Least Resistance” facilitated by a prominent, retired attorney from Sacramento, CA, Mr. Burl Waits. AAW’s first Mission and Vision Statements were developed in this retreat. Branding of the AAW logo came a couple months later and is the same logo used today, with the exception of the inclusion of the by-line ‘Removing Workforce Barriers,’ which was added in the spring of 2005. In addition, a well-known project manager/grant writer, Mary Lynn Kagan-Farrow, who came on board prior to the retreat, volunteered her services in assisting AAW to become a 501c3 nonprofit. In May of 2005 America at Work officially became Incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit through the concentrated efforts of Susan, Dorothy and Mary Lyn. As the community of supporters of AAW grew, so did our vision and eventually those reentering the workplace after paying their debts to society, ex-offenders, and emancipated youth needing help in entering a career path with an education to meet these career goals were added to our outreach efforts.

AAW's Process

The process for AAW was unique in as much as it included a thorough evaluation after which the client would be referred to a palette of services and/or service providers. The AAW model was derived from the medical community and integrated into vocational/employment programs.
It was:
• Continuity of processes overseen by a case manager from start to finish.
• Establishing accountability standards
• Preventing the duplication of services
• Having “measurable outcomes.
• Improving the quality of service delivery and the results.
• Working with partnerships and alliances in the community
• Working with the business community to focus on employer skill set needs. In turn employment goals became much more effective as both employers and clients were brought together.
• In addition, part of AAW’s mission to, “change the perspective of employers on the population AAW serves” is slowly but surely evolving.

When AAW Went From A Concept to Reality...

After receiving two significant startup foundation grants in 2008 from State Street Foundation and VetFund, an enviable Board of Directors, assisted by the volunteer efforts of Bill Garcia and other key volunteers, was sworn in. The swearing in ceremony occurred at a popular art gallery in Folsom, CA and the honorary speaker who lead the program was Senator/Assemblyman Jim Nielsen. Included in the Board were prominent leaders from the community. The Board chair was Sheriff John McGuinness, also included was Dr. Alexander Gonzalez (Sacramento State University President), Selvi Stanislaus (Executive Director of the CA Franchise Tax Board), Stephen Lard (CEO Genesis Wealth Group), Dr. Gregory Jenison (former Chair of the Chiropractic Association) and a renowned government liaison and former Director of CA Health and Human Services, Dr. Marion Woods. With the help of the two groundbreaking foundation grants AAW was able to begin to serve their core populations providing what they appropriately named “PEP” or a Personal Employment/Enrichment Plan.

….and Then the Big Break

Through the first few years of America at Work’s, Inc. ‘birth’ the same project manager and vocational/assessment professional continued to contribute to the growth of AAW while working closely with Susan. In 2009 their efforts were rewarded as AAW became the largest awardee in the state of CA of $450,000 contract/grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act serving the CA Department of Rehabilitation. In 2010 AAW was also awarded another contract through the Employment Training panel to train existing business and their employees to prepare them for the LEED (Leading Education and Environmental Design) certification(s). Ed Corneo, a prominent provider of LEED trainings and services, oversaw this contract for AAW.

In March of 2010, AAW opened its first major location at Mather Air Force Base Park and a smaller office in Roseville, CA. AAW not only met the job placement and retention quotas in the contract, but they exceeded them. In the process AAW introduced the Department of Rehabilitation to a different way of looking at how to successfully place the disabled and Veteran’s into today’s competitive workplace. This was done by creating relationships with business partners. Pipelines of employment opportunities were built between some of the largest businesses in the Sacramento Region. This allowed for a better flow of jobs for our consumers and clients, but these were not just ‘job placements’ that were considered dead end jobs, they were realistic career choices to which they could grow with and into as their skills and expertise were expanded. Our success came from the processes we proposed in the ARRA proposal and continues to be the success of AAW and what AAW is known for in the community.

In addition, through thorough intakes, first blush one on one with our intake specialists, we can set our clients on the right path towards successful employment. If challenges or barriers are disclosed at this first meeting, these are shared with appropriate resources to provide tools, resources or options for our client to provide information for the best path towards a successful outcome. If more is needed outside of an intake, a Vocational Assessment (VA) is recommended. The VA will provide a better insight into current skill, educational and transferable experience and outcome will provide a much better picture of what type of job/career or services the client qualifies for at that time.

Having Proven Ourselves to Our Major Stakeholders We Are Looking to The Future

Today we are currently expanding our services to the public and have opened doors to anyone seeking our guidance and expertise in not only finding them the proper career but helping them gain and maintain that competitive edge required in today’s workforce. To stand above their competition we are keeping in touch and changing to meet the needs of the community and who’s hiring, what they are looking for and teach/train our clients to look and apply to those most lucrative positions. By providing Federal Resume services, Job Clubs, Prep Classes, Assessments and much more to the general public we can now expand our expertise to those needing our programs and services who haven’t qualified under the qualifications required of the Dept. of Rehabilitation or the VA. To find out more about AAW call us at 916-368-1AAW (1229).


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© 2011 America At Work, Inc.
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