In December 2014, The Opus Foundation granted $5,000 to Life and Work Connections, Inc. as part of its Opportunity and Impact grant program. The Foundation awards about $3 million annually to programs and projects across the country to make communities better places to live, learn, work and play. The Life & Work Connections program provides on-the-job training experiences for youth and adults with little or no prior work experience, for the purpose of building community employment skills. These training services align with one of the five key focus areas of the Foundation’s giving program—workforce development.
So far, grant funds have been used to purchase mobile devices and associated application software, as tools to guide and enhance learning and work performance for the trainees. Funds were also used to purchase the printing of an Employment Services brochure – developed and used for outreach to prospective community employers in Boone County.
The iPad, six iPods and Visual Schedule Planner app allows individuals developing work skills on the janitorial and landscaping crews greater opportunities to self-direct and manage tasks in a work environment. “ I like the size of the iPad,” says Fonteize. “It fits my big hands and makes signing in for work a lot easier.”
“Simple tasks such as completing a time sheet and identifying what tool to use for a specific task have become more efficient and accessible through the use of portable technology,” says Maya Tarter, Client Services Coordinator and supervisor of the work crews. “The Visual Schedule Planner app allows supervisors to customize training to meet the needs of all learners from those who learn best with visual cues to those who prefer auditory prompts. Instead of depending on a supervisor to direct multiple trainees through every step of a task, a trainee is able take ownership of their assigned task and can consult the iPod for additional direction in the learning style of their choice if needed.”
“Putting technology in the hands of trainees in the work place allows them to become more familiar with the role of technology in an employment setting and how use it to enhance their strengths and achieve their employment goals,” says Mark Satterwhite, Director of Life & Work Connections. “We appreciate the Opus Foundation’s benevolence in helping make this possible. We are excited about the potential outcomes through using this technology in our training programs.”