Two more successful sessions of the Christian Community Action Job Readiness program pilot were recently held on two consecutive Saturdays for another group of hopeful and enthusiastic clients. In fact, AmeriCorps VISTA member Steven Tillman has seemed to have his hands full with the program’s rollout and revamp since the turn of the New Year. These course pilots serve as the foundation for the full development of a program which focuses upon workforce development, financial awareness, and self-empowerment. Such a program is estimated to require years of added program development and branch-cultivation for complete establishment. Social service nonprofits Goodwill Industries of Dallas and The Salvation Army of Denton County have expressed sincere interest in partnering with CCA in order to better serve the citizens of Denton County. The Workforce Solutions North Texas branch has also expressed interest in meeting with Steven to discuss the parameters for a partnership. An embodiment of programs which address the matters of unemployment and underemployment through socioeconomic awareness, skills development, and self empowerment could undoubtedly have a positive impact on a multitude of North Texas citizens. Therefore, Mr. Tillman’s efforts appear to not only be “headed in the right direction,” but in a “bright” direction, as well.
The citizens of Denton County, Texas have an interesting socioeconomic structure and somewhat of a unique need for workforce development. VISTA Steven Tillman, serving with Christian Community Action in Lewisville, TX, has spent months researching, gathering, and reviewing data, in efforts of finding a point of engagement which aligns with those needs. Programs department administrators at Christian Community Action approved Steven’s vision for holding Job Readiness courses on Saturdays. He recently launched the pilot for a group of hopeful and enthusiastic clients. The program still incorporates job market awareness, vision-scaping of future plans, and personal brand marketing, but also assist the client in conserving time by scheduling three classes in one day, rather than scheduling three classes over a period of three consecutive days. With this new addition, clients who have a busy schedule during regular business hours can participate in courses with less compromise.
Tierra has taken on CCA’s grants Spring Cycle in full force this month. So far, she has completed and submitted a total of six grants for a potential of $74,000 to support CCA’s comprehensive services and programs to assist low-income individuals across North Texas. Tierra has already secured $15,000 in funding from CoServ Charitable Foundation to assist CCA’s CoServ clients with utility assistance, as well as $5,000 in funding from Direct Energy’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor program to assist Direct Energy clients with utility assistance as well. But it doesn’t stop there! Tierra is already working on six other grants for CCA, including an application to the Texas Emergency Shelter Grant Program with a Denton County Collaborative, including Giving HOPE Inc., Denton County Friends of the Family, Salvation Army of Denton and Interfaith Ministries to reduce and prevent homelessness across the County.
Steven Tillman, an AmeriCorps VISTA currently servicing the city of Lewisville in Denton County through the nonprofit Christian Community Action (CCA), has completed his initial cycle of the Life Skills & Job Readiness Course pilot, which is designed to help course participants secure gainful employment. Steven recently completed analysis of the surveys he administered to participants, and came to some interesting conclusions which changed his view of the level of information the program must provide. He states that the majority of CCA’s potential clients experience a chronic measure of underemployment, and have an increasing need for finding solutions to make their working hours more effective at not only earning an income, but also at reaching their overall goals. Several members of CCA’s Administrative Leadership have taken notice and are eager to see the results of his work. Occupational Psychology and Workforce Development are his forte, and he says that his efforts to secure a team of trainers are beginning to produce results, which may prove to be of tremendous benefit to the citizens of Denton County. He also states that he sees that citizens of Lewisville whom are experiencing struggles with employment can benefit from taking more practical steps toward accomplishing their overall goals, as well as securing employment. Steven says he took great inspiration for the changes he’s making from a former employer, teacher, and mentor of his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.
On December, 20, 2016, North Texas Performing Arts held a gala in partnership with one of their major sponsors, Neiman Marcus. The gala was intended to raise money and awareness for North Texas Performing Arts’ capital campaign to move their headquarters to the Shops of Willow Bend in Plano, TX. VISTA Resource Developer Melanie Kuriger designed and distributed packets given to each attendee, as well as networked during the event and helped recruit parent volunteers to assist with fundraising. In total, the event brought in 80 potential donor. The success of the event was made evident in the $10,500 that came in from donations and pledges of support and resources from attendees.
Tierra Bishop, Grant Writing VISTA with Christian Community Action (CCA) of Lewisville, has taken over all grant duties after the departure of Nathaniel Aranda, former Grants Manager, in early December. In December alone, she submitted five grants for a total of $37,000 in requested funding for the CCA Food Pantry, Spiritual Care Services, and Comprehensive Services. Tierra has also completed a large portion of one of CCA’s largest annual grant requests of $165,000 to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. In addition to the grant applications, she has also taken over monthly grant reporting for the agency, ensuring grant contracts are upheld and relationships with current funders are kept healthy for immediate and long-term sustainability of the organization.
VISTA Steven Tillman continues his efforts for the development of a life skills and job readiness program curriculum for Christian Community Action (CCA). Steven conducted online research in the areas of Occupational Psychology and Workforce Development to add information to the curriculum. Steven also assisted CCA’s Family Services Department as they hosted Christmas parties for their clients. Approximately 350 families were treated to food, fun activities, and gifts, over a period of six days, courtesy of CCA and its embodiment of funders and donors. Steven provided support behind the scenes, offering to assist whenever and wherever he could. In all, the work was tedious and extensive, but CCA’s clients were offered a series of fun and memorable holiday events.
Tierra Bishop, the Grants VISTA at Christian Community Action (CCA) in Lewisville, TX has increased the agency’s capacity to provide services and programs though their Family Assistance Services program. She secured $13,500 in funding from the cities of The Colony and Coppell to provide services to the low income residents of those communities. Tierra has also expanded funding opportunities for CCA by preparing a $10,000 grant request to the Harry W. Bass Foundation and a $10,000 grant request to the Hilderbrand Foundations. If awarded, these funds will benefit CCA’s utility and rental assistance programs, food pantry and spiritual care services.
Life Skills & Job Readiness VISTA Steven Tillman, a second time AmeriCorps member from Chicago, Illinois, has formed an alliance with Solid Rock Church’s Pastor Ed Snyder, who has a ministry which offers empowerment trainings on conquering addiction, securing employment, and developing meaningful relationships to members of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The two met with administrators from Steven’s host site for service, Christian Community Action; AnDrou Hatchett, Life Skills Coordinator, and Daphne Adams, Family Services Manager. The meeting centered upon Christian Community Action’s Family Services department expanding its client engagement efforts in case management, life skills & job readiness, and motivational interviewing. Plans were created to have the life skills & job readiness program curriculum continue in development as Family Services staff undergo case management and motivational interviewing training. Steven has already created an extensive library of resume and cover letter models, and a list of questions for employment candidates to take to interviews. In addition, he is currently updating and reformatting the training PowerPoint.
As a Grant Writing VISTA at Christian Community Action, you will help end poverty by developing funding streams to assist low-income individuals transition out of crisis and become self-sufficient. Major functions include becoming familiar with grant research tools to identify new funding opportunities and develop, write and submit a minimum of 6 grant proposals for a potential outcome of $250,000 to foundations and other grant-making organizations that persuasively communicate Christian Community Action’s mission and programs to potential funders. VISTAs serve their communities through indirect service. The funding streams developed by the Grant Writing VISTA will endure for years, however the VISTA member will have limited interaction with Christian Community Action clients and will be based in an office setting. Applicants should possess excellent verbal and written communication skills, proficiency in research and basic grant writing knowledge.