Volume 10; No. 3; Summer 1998
"Welfare to Work" Does Work
By Ardis D. Jerome, Senior Director of Marketing and Planning, Goodwill
Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties, Inc.
Undoubtedly you know about Goodwill Industries . . . the closet is too
full, you finally clean it out and drop off the bags stuffed full of slightly
out- of-style clothes. But did you know that Goodwill Industries pioneered
the concept of welfare to work long before it was a political buzzword
or an official government program? This article highlights how Goodwill
Industries, in partnership with financial institutions, is making welfare
to work work for our communities.
Founded in 1902 by a Methodist minister in Boston, Goodwill Industries
employed poverty-stricken immigrants who worked for goods donated by Dr.
Edgar J. Helms affluent parishioners. Soon, there were more clothes and
household items than the immigrants needed and the first Goodwill Industries
store opened. It was here in Boston that Dr. Helm launched the very first
welfare to work program by employing the impoverished immigrants at
the Goodwill Industries store. Today, almost a century later, nearly 1,500
Goodwill Industries retail stores operate in the United States and Canada.
These stores generate employment opportunities and revenue which funds
other Goodwill Industries skills training programs. Goodwill Industries
has earned a strong reputation for providing employment and training to
people with disabilities and other barriers to employment.
In 1997, Goodwill Industries retail sales were an astounding $598.7
million, total revenue exceeded $1.2 billion, and 204,235 people received
employment and training services. Goodwill Industries has shown that welfare
to work programs can work. Last year, over 32,000 people became employed,
becoming taxpayers not tax users.
In 1996, welfare to work programs like Goodwill Industries gained national
attention as Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Reconciliation Act of 1996 (welfare reform) that required adults who receive
public assistance to find jobs in two years or lose their benefits. To
transition from welfare to work, people need employment and training programs
like those Goodwill Industries offers.
Currently, Goodwill Industries holds 70 welfare-to-work contracts in
the U.S. mostly with state or local governments. More than 20,000 workfare
participants have already been served through partnerships with government
and private industries.
Unfortunately, while Goodwill Industries is largely self-funded through
its retail sales, the demand for employment and its ancillary services
is far greater than resources, physical space and money available. Private
funds to build training centers, retail stores, equipment training rooms
and ancillary support systems are crucial to the success of Goodwill Industries
Many financial institutions choose to work with Goodwill Industries because
it is considered a well-run organization that understands the business
community. These transactions can also mean potential Community Reinvestment
Act (CRA)-related opportunities for a bank. For example, Exchange Bank
recently financed a new Goodwill Industries plant in Santa Rosa. According
to Patrick Kilkenny, president and CEO of the National Bank of the Redwoods,
who serves on the finance committee for Goodwill Indus-tries in Santa
Rosa, Goodwill Industries will leverage this money to expand employment
and training programs. It was the first time Exchange Bank had made a
loan to a nonprofit. They were very comfortable with Goodwill In-dustries
ability to generate cash flow.
When making this type of loan, financial institutions help people transition
from welfare to work and at the same time, may also earn lending consideration
under the CRA. In addition, bankers like Kilkenny who choose to serve
on Goodwill Industries board of directors may receive credit under the
CRAs service test. The benefits to banks of partnering with Goodwill
Industries, however, do not stop there.
By working with Goodwill Industries, banks help develop and gain access
to a well-trained workforce. For example, challenged by a dwindling workforce
intensified by a 3% unemployment rate, Seafirst Bank, a division of Bank
of America, NT&SA, approached the Seattle Goodwill Industries in search
of skilled and trained workers. According to Goodwill Industries Director
of Training and Employment Janetta Narte, the visit gave rise to a four-week
proof operator training program.
Seafirst provided five on-site proof machines, supplies and 25 ten-key
calculators. Its staff provided input into the training curriculum and
assisted with classroom instruction. The pilot program, launched in February,
consisted of 15 participants. Since then 14 people have been hired into
Seafirsts proof and ATM department. Based on positive results from the
pilot program, the Seattle Goodwill Industries now offers two classes,
one for proof operators and one for ATM processors. The second class,
which began in June, had 50 applicants for its 15 seats.
According to Resa Peay-Wainwright, Bank of America Global Learning Services,
and board member of the San Francisco Goodwill Industries, It certainly
makes sense to work with Goodwill Industries for the opportunity to increase
our pool of viable job candidates and to help our own communities at the
As welfare reform takes hold in our communities, financial institutions
can play a significant role in making welfare to work work for everyone
involved. Banks can support programs like Goodwill Industries which have
made welfare to work a reality for thousands of people since 1902. At
the same time, banks earn CRA consideration and tap into a pool of skilled
workers who help them improve services and their bottom line. CI
Further information about local programs and opportunities is available
by calling 1-800-741-0186, your local Goodwill Industries, or visiting
Goodwill Industries Web site at www.goodwill.org.
About the Authors
Ardis D. Jerome is senior director
of marketing and planning at Goodwill Industries of San Francisco,
San Mateo and Marin Counties, Inc. She began her Goodwill career
in Spokane, Washington in 1977, where she was a forerunner in
upgrading Goodwills retail image.
Since 1985, Ms. Jerome has served in many capacities
with the San Francisco operation, earning marketing awards, developing
a new corporate identity and serving as project manager in the
rebuilding of the Agency following the Loma Prieta earthquake.
She fully believes When youve given people the dignity of work,
you have given them everything.