Houston Community College and partners received a $1.8 million grant from JP Morgan Chase this month with the goal of training underserved Houstonians in jobs that will help boost the city's preparedness for the aftermath of natural disasters.
The funds will go toward creating a certificate program that will launch in the fall 2022 semester as part of The Resilient Workforce Collaborative.
“The Resilient Workforce Collaborative brings together the public sector, private sector, higher education institutions, and our nonprofit partners to make transformational change in our most underserved neighborhoods,” Mayor Sylvester Turner says in a statement. “The collaborative complements our efforts within the Complete Communities to prepare low-to-moderate income Houstonians for high-demand jobs and increase the diversity of candidates in the talent pipelines for green careers that will advance our city’s resilience. This resourceful partnership is a welcomed addition to Houston’s workforce development landscape.”
The collaborative will operate out of HCC's Resiliency Center of Excellence, which was first announced in May and is slated to open its $35 million Resiliency Operations Center at HCC's Northeast College in 2024. Other members of the collaborative include City of Houston, Harris County, Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast, Resilience Innovation Hub, American Youth Works, WorkTexas, TRIO Electric, TRIO Education, Memorial Assistance Ministries, South Union CDC, Impact Hub Houston, Neuhaus Education Center, TXRX Labs, Volunteers of America-TX, Wesley Community Center, and JPMorgan Chase.
The program will aim to help residents who come from some of Houston’s most underserved and under-resourced neighborhoods find career opportunities in the clean energy, disaster response, utilities, trades and manufacturing fields. According to HCC, "an important element of the collaborative is employers changing some of their hiring practices to emphasize specialized training certificates over traditional 4-year degrees."
So far, partnering employers include The City of Houston, Harris County and TRIO Electric—and the collaborative is looking for more employers and funders to support its mission.
“This collaborative provides a ‘go-to place’ for Houstonians to learn skills that will lead to good paying jobs. It is a better system because it’s set up to fulfill needs that already exist in the workplace,” HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado said in a statement.
HCC and the City of Houston signed a memorandum of understanding in August, on the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, that the organizations would train 500,000 citizens, employees, small businesses, volunteers, and first responders in new resiliency training programs starting this fall.
At the time, seven courses in resiliency were announced, with an additional 30 courses slated to be added in 2023. The program will be offered at 22 HCC locations.