In the past few weeks, efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. Our team is working hard to help the community endure this crisis, this includes creating a new section on our website focused on the nonprofits serving Eastern Jackson County during COVID-19 and fast-tracking our 2020 competitive grants cycle to offer flexibility and funding to nonprofits when they need it most. We are also reaching out to food pantries, school districts and church programs throughout the area in a coordinated effort to support people laid off due to the coronavirus. As nonessential businesses shuttered to observe stay-at-home orders and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, millions of Americans lost their jobs. In Missouri, more than 252,000 people filed new unemployment claims in the first three weeks of April. And according to estimates released on April 23 by the Economic Policy Institute, job losses of this magnitude would translate into an unemployment rate of 18 percent – higher than at any point since the Great Depression. There is a lot of uncertainty in our lives right now. It’s disruptive and unsettling. Hardworking people throughout Eastern Jackson County are struggling to provide essentials for their families and are navigating the unemployment system for the first time. Our recently launched Job Skills for New Careers initiative can help. A collaborative partnership with Community Services League (CSL), Herndon Career Center, Mid-Continent Public Library and University of Central Missouri (UCM), the new Truman Heartland Community Foundation community initiative will provide tuition-free job training and support to help people get on the path to higher paying in-demand careers and break the cycle of poverty. Through this initiative, participants will be matched with support services through CSL, community resources through Mid-Continent Public Library and opportunities for trainings available through Herndon Career Center and UCM in fields that pay living wages and are in high demand in the region, including healthcare, other medical fields and skilled industrial trades. These services will all be provided at no cost to the participants. We are committed to this work now more than ever, but it would not be possible without community support. Support from generous Community Foundation fundholders who have contributed nearly $110,000 to provide trainings in 2020. It’s possible thanks to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, who has provided a $60,000 grant so that participants will receive wraparound support services , such as public benefits counseling and financial coaching that will help remove barriers that may prevent program participants from reaching their goals both during the program and for the future. So, while we cannot predict how things will unfold in the weeks and months to come, this program will provide an opportunity for hard-working people who are struggling to get ahead build new skills and connect with resources that will help them withstand this trying time and get back to work in a better paying job. The stay-at-home orders have put the training that would be happening right now on pause. On April 29, we met with our collaboration partners over Zoom to chart our path forward. Visit our Job Skills for New Careers section to learn more about this work and how you can support this effort. Each of us already know or will soon know someone who is unemployed because of this crisis. Our program can particularly benefit those working in low paying retail or restaurant jobs who have been laid off in huge numbers. Please share this information with them and encourage them to visit newskills.cslcares.org and complete a simple application. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis with trainings starting soon. Help us spread the word about this program while containing the spread of the virus.