Employee working with technical and electrical components.

Jobs that pay a living wage — and so much more

This Portland Community College program helps those in need secure meaningful employment and build a path to economic independence

Help can come in many forms. It may involve social services, education, skills training or job placement. In many cases, however, a relationship-based approach with different types of assistance is what’s needed to help people transform their lives through education.

That approach is a hallmark of Portland Community College (PCC), which provides educational and career development services to residents of five Oregon counties, with support from the PCC Foundation. The organization’s extensive experience with Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino communities, English-language learners and vulnerable populations — including people with health challenges and those with a history of housing insecurity or incarceration — helps it coordinate education, social services and job assistance so each participant can achieve economic self-sufficiency. Its Willow Creek Center (WCC) acts as a hub for families to connect with local employers, access individualized career coaching and explore high-wage careers such as manufacturing, healthcare, computer information systems and the trades. They can take college and career preparation classes and receive training in essential workforce skills.

As Oregon continues to recover economically from the pandemic, the WCC training programs are in high demand, underscoring a need for additional funding for the organization to provide comprehensive support for local residents and businesses. Bank of America supports the work of WCC through a Neighborhood Builder award, funding that will allow WCC to expand capacity, develop best practices, enhance student services — and help get members of the community into family-wage jobs.

In programs such as the one developed by Portland Community College, Bank of America continues to partner with innovative leaders to help communities implement solutions to society’s important challenges.