In January 2019, we welcomed our fourth cohort of clients into our innovative TOTAL Career Pathway. Live and Learn developed TOTAL in 2017, to prepare and support low-income women for technology careers in the Phoenix area. It is crucial that our clients follow education and career paths in fields with high-employment demand that offer a livable wage, and the tech industry is exactly that. TOTAL is an intense journey, and the success of our clients in this program has been truly inspiring.
Why the Tech Industry?
The Phoenix-metro area is the 3rd fastest-growing tech center in the country, with employment demands currently outpacing supply (https://www.cbsnews.com/media/americas-top-10-tech-cities-arent-on-the-coasts/4/). This means there are sustainable, livable-wage jobs available, jobs that make it possible for a woman to lift herself out of poverty and create a better future for her children.
TOTAL stands for Training on Technology and Life Skills. Our purpose is to prepare women for jobs currently available in the tech industry and to assist them with securing and navigating their career. TOTAL ensures clients in the program get exactly what they need to succeed.
How Does TOTAL Work?
In January 2018, Live and Learn partnered with YearUp to improve TOTAL’s efficiency and effectiveness. This partnership combines our holistic, individualized support with YearUp’s effective, intense career training program. YearUp named Live and Learn their 2019 Community Partner of the Year: Opportunity Champion.
Clients selected for the TOTAL Career Pathway are young adult women from the Phoenix-metro area whose lives have been affected by poverty, violence, and homelessness. They are the first in their families to complete high school, the first to attain a secondary degree, and the first to pursue a professional career. These women need education and career training to access tech-industry careers, and they also need to develop pertinent life-skills, get financial assistance, and receive emotional support as they manage this major life-change.
Live and Learn works with each woman for about two years as they pass through the four stages of the TOTAL Career Pathway:
- Clients selected for this pathway must apply for and be accepted into YearUp Arizona’s intense career training program. Once accepted, they choose to pursue careers in computer programming, cyber security, or business operations.
- Women begin full-time classes at a Maricopa Community College for seven months. During this time, they receive needs-based financial assistance and supplemental support from Live and Learn. They also begin our mentor program, which addresses clients’ personal and emotional obstacles to success and prepares them to work in male-dominated work environments.
- Next, women begin five-month internships with local Fortune 500 companies. These internships allow them to grow their skills, gain real-world on-the-job experience, and build professional relationships. Live and Learn’s financial assistance, supplemental support, and mentoring continue.
- Once they complete their internships, Live and Learn assists women with their transition into a professional career. This includes job-search assistance and developing life skills such as interpersonal communication and conflict resolution, as well as developing financial literacy to prepare to make wise decisions.
TOTAL increases the educational and economic opportunities for women, while providing the support they need to successfully develop their potential. YearUp’s program, combined with our holistic, individualized assistance and mentorship support, empowers clients to lift themselves out of poverty in a sustainable way.
Every client that embarks on our TOTAL Career Pathway works towards three goals:
- Graduation from the YearUp program;
- Secure livable-wage employment in the field of their choice within 6 months of graduating from YearUP;
- Complete Live and Learn’s program within two years, meaning they have achieved economic self-sufficiency.
Impact on Our Clients, Our Community
TOTAL is an intense journey, but, for highly-motivated and hard-working women, it is a real opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty. This, then, has a profound, long-term impact on the children, or future children, of these women and on the larger community.
The economic self-sufficiency of a parent has a direct effect on her children. Growing up in poverty hinders a child’s emotional, cognitive, and behavioral development, and it limits the child’s lifelong educational and professional attainment. As family incomes increase, children’s health and behavior improve. Children see the example their mothers set; they see the importance of post-secondary education and the possibility of a professional career. We hear this time and again from clients: “My kids see my hard work and sacrifices for my own education, and they are starting to dream about their own future” (Raquel, L&L alumna). As women improve their emotional and mental health, instances of domestic violence against women and children decrease. Empowering women improves families.
More stable, financially-secure families benefit our larger community. Crime rates decrease and education rates increase. The community thrives and is able to attract further economic development.
Through TOTAL, we are providing desperately-needed, skilled professionals to the tech companies currently bolstering the local Phoenix-area economy. Through their hard work, our clients are building a better future for their children and creating a more stable, robust community. That’s a win-win.