DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Walmart announced more than $4 million in support of the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC). The grant will allow the CWDC to partner with local workforce development boards across Colorado to launch 10 new retail sector partnerships. Through each of these public-private partnerships, representatives from workforce boards, economic development and education will work with retail employers in the community to design upskilling and training programs that support career advancement for frontline workers and can be a model for workforce development organizations across the U.S. to follow.
The grant was announced at the Colorado statehouse at an event co-hosted by Walmart and the CWDC, and included remarks from Governor John Hickenlooper.
The funding comes at an important time, when there are an estimated five million unfilled jobs in the U.S., but 24 million frontline workers who might be able to fill these jobs if given the opportunity to develop advanced training, according to UpSkill America. By improving the quality of skills training and increasing opportunities for advancement, retail jobs can be a powerful engine for economic mobility.
“Colorado is a leader in creating pathways for workers to develop new skills that will advance their careers,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “This grant from Walmart creates new retail sector partnerships which will drive success for workers and businesses.”
This support for the CWDC is part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s five-year, $100 million Retail Opportunity Initiative, a philanthropic effort aimed at making it easier for frontline employees in retail and adjacent sectors to gain new skills and advance in their careers. To date, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have funded more than $80 million in grants designed to increase the economic mobility of retail and related-sector workers.
“Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to empowering lives and communities by creating pathways for frontline incumbent retail workers to advance in their careers,” said Julie Gehrki, vice president of philanthropy at Walmart. “Our support of the Colorado Workforce Development Council is a further step in our efforts to strengthen the workforce ecosystem beyond Walmart’s walls through collaboration with public and private sector leaders.”
The CWDC and sector partnerships will aim to train incumbent workers through Walmart’s funding, as well as share best practices for building retail career pathways and upskilling workers through the development of a “how-to” guide that will be shared statewide. The statewide expansion builds on the success of the Denver Retail Sector Partnership, convened by the Denver Office of Economic Development. The industry-led partnership focused on workforce as a key issue in 2016 and 2017 and provided skills training, work experience and paid youth pre-apprenticeships through a previous Walmart grant.
“Public-private partnerships that boost our state’s workforce development systems are important investments which will benefit not only Colorado workers, but the American worker,” said Sam Walker, managing director of the Colorado Workforce Development Council and executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “With Walmart’s support, we can further build Colorado’s talent pipeline while developing a playbook for upskilling service sector workers to scale on a national level.”
Through the Retail Opportunity Initiative, Walmart also recently announced nearly $4 million in grants to the Foundation for California Community Colleges, Code for America Labs, Inc. and edX.org to help provide workers access to education, training and skills to create innovative pathways for lifelong learning.
For more information on Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s commitment to opportunity, please visit https://corporate.walmart.com/opportunity.
Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better - anytime and anywhere - in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, nearly 265 million customers and members visit our more than 11,200 stores under 55 banners in 27 countries and eCommerce websites. With fiscal year 2018 revenue of $500.3 billion, Walmart employs over 2.2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart.
About Philanthropy at Walmart
By using our strengths to help others, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation create opportunities for people to live better every day. Walmart has stores in 27 countries, employing more than 2.2 million associates and doing business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are helping people live better by accelerating upward job mobility for the retail workforce; addressing hunger and making healthier, more sustainably-grown food a reality; and building strong communities where we operate. We are not only working to tackle key social issues, we are also collaborating with others to inspire solutions for long-lasting systemic change. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visit foundation.walmart.com.