RISE Up program roundtables connect retailers and nonprofits with second-chance job seekers

Aug 10, 2023
Written by WR Communications

Front from left to right: Michele Whinery, Retail Services Sr. Claims Analyst, Brittany Shannon, Retail Services Business Development Manager Naomi Paige, Pioneer Human Services Director of Workforce and Community Services, Jessica Viera, NRF Foundation Outreach Coordinator, Rose Gundersen WR V.P. of Retail Services, Leslie Patten with the Workforce Council King-Seattle, Cherey Smith, Fireworks Gallery General Manager of Stores,. Back row from left: Jerry Irwin, Sr. General Manager Brookfield Properties/Alderwood & Westlake Center and WR Board Member, and John Glynn, Director of Business Relations & Workforce Solutions with the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County.


Over 40 people participated in WR’s first roundtable conversation connecting retailers to nonprofits that serve second-chance job seekers. The events were held at Southcenter and the Burlington Chamber on Aug 8.

The events aimed to promote sustainable employment for workforce nonprofits and their clients. Highlighted were the nonprofits’ comprehensive services, including client placement, follow-up, and continuous coaching for a set duration.

Jessica Summerton-Moore, who leads the YouthForce Program with the Boys and Girls Club of King County, said she felt energized by the retail partners’ engagement and openness to working with community partners to reduce barriers to entry into the retail industry. Jessica shared how employers can engage their clients in the form of internships with full-onboarding services for the employer.

Federal bonds are available for employers concerned about recidivism when hiring second-chance workers. These bonds would reimburse employers for any thefts or crimes committed against them by these workers. According to John Glynn, the Director of Business Relations & Workforce Solutions with the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, recidivism cases are extremely rare.

Jessica Viera, the Outreach Coordinator for the NRF Foundation’s RISE Up program, spoke about the value of the four RISE Up retail workforce certifications for employers and job seekers. Workforce partners agreed these credentials would be promising for good jobs when paired with support from their social workers and employers.

These successful conversations could not have been possible without the partnership of Westfield Southcenter, the Burlington Chamber, the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, and the NRF Foundation. WR will continue sharing the success stories of employed second-chance workers and promoting these resources to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion principles.


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