CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – (Dec. 16, 2020) – The Chattanooga Chamber Foundation and the Regions Foundation, a nonprofit initiative of Regions Bank, today announced ongoing support for a skills and workforce development program that serves job-seekers living in parts of Hamilton County hardest hit by unemployment before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supported by a donation of $90,000 from the Regions Foundation, the Skill Up initiative provides more than 45 people with six weeks of training in advanced manufacturing, customer service and information technology. Participants spend the first three weeks learning new skills, followed by three weeks applying them in on-the-job training.
The Regions Foundation is an Alabama-based 501(c)(3) organization funded primarily through Regions Bank contributions. The Foundation seeks to advance community initiatives that prioritize financial wellness, education and workforce readiness, and economic and community development.
“Workforce readiness programs are worthy investments that pay countless dividends in our communities,” said Marta Self, executive director, Regions Foundation. “Skill Up will dramatically change the jobs outlook for people in Hamilton County who will now have the chance to learn skills and immediately put those skills to work.”
Michael Mathis, Chattanooga market executive, Regions Bank, talked about what a difference this can make in people’s lives over a lifetime of employment.
“The Skill Up formula contains vital ingredients for success,” Mathis said. “By providing classroom training and on-the-job experience in vital industries like manufacturing and IT, Skill Up is not only transforming careers, it’s transforming lives. Regions is proud to support this program, especially during a time when so many people and employers have experienced challenges amid the pandemic.”
Program services reach people who live in areas of high, long-term unemployment with specific outreach to East Chattanooga and the Brainerd High School footprint, which aligns with prior investments Regions Bank has made in the same area.
Christy Gillenwater, president and chief executive officer, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said the program addresses some of the needs identified through the Velocity2040 community visioning plan and Chattanooga Climbs, the economic and talent development program developed afterward. Chattanooga Climbs is now in its second year of a 5-year plan.
“The most important thing to remember about the generous Regions Foundation investment is that it helps people secure and keep meaningful jobs,” Gillenwater said. “Chattanooga and Hamilton County have enjoyed high levels of growth and prosperity in the past several decades, but not everyone was able to secure a sustainable, good paying job. This program goes a long way toward addressing needs that our own community identified.”
Participants receive a training wage, earn industry-recognized credentials and secure full-time employment, typically at a higher sustainable wage than minimum wage. Additional Skill Up initiative partners include Chattanooga State Community College, Hamilton County Schools and United Way of Greater Chattanooga.
“The Skill Up program is exactly what our community needs to increase the earning potential and quality of life of people who are unemployed or underemployed,” said Rebecca Ashford, Ed.D., president, Chattanooga State Community College. “In a very short period, participants obtain valuable skills that employers need to meet their workforce demands. That means participants will get good jobs at the end of this short-term training.”
“I am so appreciative of our partners for helping us change lives for the better,” Ashford said.
United Way helps by surveying students to see what barriers they face, then connects participants with existing programs to help them overcome those obstacles – and focus on long-term stability and economic mobility.
For example, Building Stable Lives offers long-term life coaching and support for families with children under 18. The Neediest Cases Fund provides financial assistance to cover bills or expenses, and the Restore Hope Fund serves those experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 as well as tornadoes. The 211 hotline works great for people who might benefit from working with a case manager who can provide referrals to additional resources.
“Rebuilding the pathway to economic mobility will be crucial in the year ahead,” said Lesley Scearce, president and chief executive officer, United Way of Greater Chattanooga. “A huge step toward that end is ensuring that our workforce is stable both in the technical skills to do their job and the community resources that can support their household.”
“We are so excited to serve program participants through connecting them to the multitude of community services available to them through our 211 and Building Stable Lives programs. Our biggest desire is that they are connected to comprehensive community resources that can support them both on and off the job,” Scearce said.
For more information, see chattanoogastate.edu, UnitedWayCha.org or ChattanoogaChamber.com.
About Regions Foundation
The Alabama-based Regions Foundation supports community investments that positively impact communities served by Regions Bank. The Foundation engages in a grantmaking program focused on priorities including economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; and financial wellness. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.
About Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $145 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,400 banking offices and 2,000 ATMs. Regions Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at www.regions.com.