Breaking the cycle of poverty for Oregon women

Oct 22, 2015

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, an estimated 17.4 percent of women living in urban areas of Oregon and about 13 percent of women living in rural Oregon are living below the poverty line. Oregon Tradeswoman, Inc. (OTI) is helping these women escape poverty by providing training and access to middle-wage jobs.

OTI was founded in 1989 as a small support group led by four tradeswomen. Today it is a thriving nonprofit dedicated to promoting success and self-sufficiency for women in the trades through education, leadership and mentorship. OTI has helped thousands of low-income women attain careers in the building, mechanical, electrical and utility trades.

OTI’s work to train women for construction and manufacturing jobs helps the state’s economy as well. Advanced manufacturing is one of the most important industry sectors in Oregon, supporting more than 85,000 jobs and a $7 billion payroll in Portland. But, there is a shortage of skilled workers in this sector. OTI is helping employers get the workers they need, while diversifying the workforce.

Recognizing the essential services OTI provides to the community, Bank of America recently named the nonprofit a 2015 Neighborhood Builder. The Award includes $200,000 in unrestricted funding and leadership training for OTI executives. With this grant, the organization is launching a new “Women in Metals & Manufacturing” program.


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Manufacturing jobs in Portland pay significantly more than jobs in the service sector for employees with the same level of education.

Connie Ashbrook
Oregon Tradeswoman, Inc.