Nearly one-third of all women who are single parents in Vermont live in poverty – in spite of the fact that they work full-time. Our programs for women are designed with one central aim in mind: to assist women in thinking about their lives in the broadest terms – and to help them develop skills and capacities that are critical to long-term economic independence.
When a mother finds work after years of unemployment, she can more ably provide for her children. If she is able to leave public assistance, she no longer requires state support. Moreover, she pays taxes. Her example may inspire her children, her sister, a friend. It may enable her to leave a dangerous relationship. Her success at work may encourage an employer to take a chance on someone else with a similarly unimpressive work history. Thus, addressing the needs of families in poverty requires helping women and girls explore and pursue work that allow for economic independence.
Our programs for women:
- Step In to Work – Step In to Work is a holistic work-readiness system designed to support women in overcoming their employment barriers. Step In to Work provides an opportunity for deep skill-building and hands-on learning which helps prepare women for meaningful, livable-wage work. With its rolling admission and customizable approach to addressing each woman’s unique needs, Step In to Work is well poised to assist women in securing long-term employment while also providing on-going, structured post program support.
- FRESH Food – A culinary training program that prepares underemployed women to work in commercial kitchens and restaurants. Over 13 weeks, trainees assist professional chefs in preparing 6,000 healthy, nutritious meals per month for local childcare centers throughout Chittenden County.
- Step Up programs – Our Step Up programs and classes introduce women to jobs and careers they may not have considered before – typically male-dominated fields – that pay a higher wage perhaps, and at the same time, have fewer female professionals and role models to look to.
Recent programs include:
- Step Up to Information Technology – A training program for women interested in working in the web/technology industry, or returning to it. The program provides a grounding in and overview of technology-related careers; exposure to nearly 30 role models and professionals working in those fields; some front-end web development skill-building (coding and programming); one-on-one job coaching; and creation of a project portfolio by program’s end.
- Step Up to Skilled Manufacturing – A program for women interested in pursuing careers in precision machining. This introductory training provides an overview of the knowledge and skills needed to be a top notch applicant for entry-level jobs in our growing manufacturing industry. Classes include online and in-classroom instruction, interactive labs, weekly job shadow opportunities at local manufacturing companies, and one-on-one job coaching.
- Step Up to Law Enforcement – A training program for women interested in pursuing careers in policing and corrections. This pre-Academy intensive – the first of its kind for women in the United States – prepares qualified female candidates for the State of Vermont’s police academy, corrections academy, and other entry-level jobs in law enforcement.
- Vermont Women’s Mentoring Program – A program that matches volunteer, trained mentors with women transitioning out of prison and fosters a supportive community for mentees, promoting healthy lifestyle activities and reducing isolation. This program is a partnership between Mercy Connections, Vermont Works for Women, and the Department of Corrections.