The Dallas mom’s stress was enormous.
SheDarrylle Davis was raising two children on her own but had no education to qualify for a “middle-skills” career like nursing.
It’s a familiar story in Dallas where, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 22 percent of residents live in poverty.
Meanwhile, Dallas has tens of thousands of unfilled middle-skills jobs. These occupations require education or training beyond high school, but not a four-year college degree.
School children get technical training through specialized curriculum involving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
But adults aren’t alone in their hopes for a better future.
The Community Council of Greater Dallas helps unskilled people become able workers who can earn a “livable wage.”
“That’s about $24.24 an hour in Dallas,” said Janie Bordner, the council’s president and CEO. “And if you’re not making that, you’re not making enough to squeak by. You better not have an emergency of any kind.”
Numerous nonprofits have joined the fight against poverty in North Texas, including Interfaith Family Services, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and the Child Poverty Action Lab, to name a few.
The Community Council, however, has been in the fight for nearly 80 years. It offers a wide range of services, first helping clients with necessities so they can focus on skills training.
Financial assistance helps cover childcare, transportation, food, utilities, and even temporary housing, Bordner said.
Next, is a wide range of training through the program “Skill QUEST,” taught at the council’s offices, 1341 Mockingbird Lane.
For example, people interested in information technology (IT) careers can learn “full-stack” web development, the Python programming language, and cybersecurity.
“Once you graduate, you get a certificate,” Bordner said. “And, all this training is project-based, so you can make a portfolio as well.”
The council wants to connect 5,000 people with middle-skills jobs in 2020.
This “5,000 Jobs 2020” initiative launches in January with a goal to raise $3 million for skills training and other services.
The money is intended to match a $3 million Community Services Block grant, Bordner said. Visit dallas5000jobs.org to donate.
Helping people escape poverty improves their households but also gives them spending power that boosts the local economy, Bordner said.
And, she noted, helping 5,000 adults will have spin-off benefits for an estimated 20,000 people, considering many of the clients have families.
“They’re not asking for a handout,” Bordner said. “They want to get working and to give back to the community.’”
One such resident is the afore-mentioned single mother, SheDarrylle Davis. The council helped her become a nurse.
“They took care of everything, from tuition, to books, to uniforms,” she said. “Keeping up with my studying and assignments was stressful enough. Skill QUEST gave me peace of mind by eliminating my financial worries. I really thought (it) was too good to be true. I’m forever grateful.”