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Seeing Through to the Big Picture

Posted on June 29, 2009, by United Way in

United Waygrantee Springboard Forward has developed a fundamentally new model called Engaged Employment, which inspireslow-wage workersto develop a long-term vision for career mobility. The program begins with the job they currently have and uses that job as a springboard for improving their future.

Springboard Forward's approach not onlyadvances workers' careers, but also benefits employers byaddressing chronic business challenges such as low retention, poor employee performance, and unsatisfactory customer service. By addressing these challenges, Springboard Forwardcreates bottom-line incentives for employers to help change the landscape for workers in low-wage jobs.

Springboard Forward client Marquita is an employee at the Goodwill Store in Bayview. Before she discovered Springboard, she felt stuck in a dead-end role, and was intensely focused on the negative aspects of her job, which included cleaning up the mess customers left behind. Marquitalonged to tackle additional responsibility and expand her role, but lacked confidence in her abilities, particularly because she struggled with reading and math, and believed that might set her up to fail. “I didn't want to mess up, so I didn't want to try,” she said.

Her participation in the Engaged Employment™ Program helped Marquita transform these challenges into a whole new mindset.

She found the courage to share her reading challenges with her Springboard coach, and together they found resources to help her overcome what had felt like an insurmountable barrier. She participated with the Project READ chapter at her local library,and, when she felt ready, asked her manager to support her in expanding her role at the store and become the closing supervisor.

With theencouragement of her Springboard Forward coach, Marquita is taking better physical care of herself, trying to stop smoking and implementing an exercise routine into her life. She even approaches the daily frustrations of her job from a new perspective.

“I smile a lot more in the store. When customers tear the store apart, I am not so angry with it," Marquita said. "I pick it up and smile, just pick it up and smile. Just my ways are different.”

Marquita says that, through the Springboard Forward program, “I learned…which way to go…I've got to take these steps. I have to put that fear aside and just do it.”

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