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Jenifer Giroux, Director of Workforce Development and the Outreach Programs at RIC
Year began at RIC: 1998
Project: Scholarships for Project TRAMA
Lisa Mota (Administrative Assistant and Outreach Programs graduate), Jenifer Giroux, and Kathy DiOrio
The Outreach Programs was awarded a grant from the Emma Harris Foundation to support five scholarships to unemployed, low-income, low-skilled women residing in Rhode Island. These scholarships will allow women to attend the medical assistant training program (Project TRAMA – Training Responsible Adults as Medical Assistants), enter employment and start on a career ladder that will enable them to become financially independent. The Outreach Programs is matching this grant by providing an additional five scholarships to this vulnerable population.
Jenifer Giroux works with Kathy DiOrio, Coordinator of Student Services, to run this program for Rhode Islanders who are not eligible for other funding. The certificate program prepares men and women for entry-level jobs, though the Emma Harris grant provides funds specifically for women. All of the programs offered through the Outreach Programs include instruction on job skills and financial literacy, and an internship experience. Upon graduation, the Outreach Programs works with the students until they have found a job, including helping them write resumes; post-employment follow-up is also provided.
The program accepts adults of all ages. Many young women enter just out of high school or a GED program; these students often return to RIC to receive a nursing degree after experience in the workforce. Due to the current high unemployment rate, though, Ms. Giroux says they are seeing more older women coming in for training. In fact, the program recently graduated a 70 year old widow who had never been a part of the workforce, but suddenly found herself in need of employment. Most women come to the program through community referrals, and many are refugees in need of English language classes, which are provided. As Ms. Giroux says, "The Emma Harris Foundation has provided a nice opportunity to help people who otherwise would have fallen through the cracks."
One scholarship recipient, a young single mother, co-chaired a Student Leadership Committee, which was formed to implement fundraising to assist students who were struggling to pay rent, buy food, put gas in their cars, or scrape up enough money for a bus pass to get to school. When she graduated the TRAMA program, she was proud of her accomplishment, and to have made a difference in the lives of struggling students. She is currently employed at a medical office in Greenville, RI.
Ms. Giroux says that being located on RIC's campus provides many benefits for the Outreach Programs. She sees the sense of pride the students have to be connected to a college. Also, many RIC students volunteer their time to tutor students in the Outreach Programs.