When the COVID-19 outbreak started, Training to Work an Industry Niche pivoted operations.
Training to Work an Industry Niche (TWIN) provides training programs to support workforce development initiatives within local communities, but the non-profit organization was forced to pivot its plans in early 2020. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, TWIN lost revenue because it had to cancel training programs that had state requirements for in-person and hands-on training.
“By the beginning of the fall we generated approximately one third of the revenue that was projected for 2020,” Tonnia Thomas, Executive Director at TWIN, said. “Despite the shortcomings, we started to focus on how to build the organization’s resilience and find a way to coexist with the pandemic.”
TWIN shifted its focus, creating a new initiative to address the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the Charlotte community. The organization implemented an Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection (ECD) program, which provided paid training for individuals to learn how to clean for health safety. The program also included a field service project to give back to the community.
In order to successfully launch the training, TWIN applied for grant funding.
A Workforce Partner Support Grant recipient, TWIN used the funds from Charlotte Open For Business to provide 25 individuals a paid training experience. Additionally, TWIN supported five senior facilities by cleaning and disinfecting high-touched common areas weekly as part of the ECD initiative.
“The residents at the senior facilities continuously thank the trainees each day for their support. I remember reading a sign in an elevator at one of the facilities that said, ‘Seniors Lives Matter too…we are grandparents, fathers, mothers…what about the concern for us,’” Thomas explained. “Reading that sign confirmed for me that what we were doing with the ECD program was the right thing to do and we could not have done it without the grant.”
TWIN plans to serve even more of the community by expanding its program beyond senior facilities.
While TWIN saw success bringing the ECD program into senior facilities, the non-profit organization plans to further its reach by offering training workshops to small business owners as well.
“One way we can support and help small business owners protect their investment is by making sure they understand best practices and techniques for cleaning and disinfecting as a defense against COVID-19,” Thomas said.
After transitioning its programming while navigating a global pandemic, TWIN learned to be flexible and to look for ways to service the immediate needs of the community across all demographics. TWIN’s goal has always been to strengthen communities and drive economic development, which the organization worked to fulfill through its ECD program.
Thomas added: “When we come together with a common objective, we can make a tremendous impact on each other and for each other.”
Training to Work an Industry Niche received a Workforce Partner Support Grant from Charlotte Open For Business. Through the grant program, the City of Charlotte has awarded $3.5 million to workforce partners to provide programs for our community.