It’s been an action-packed year at Green Opportunities. In 2016, we provided training and wrap-around support services to 68 adult residents of Asheville and Buncombe County via three job training programs: GO Kitchen Ready, GO Build, and Table Service Essentials. GO graduated 78% of the students we trained and awarded 59 portable industry certifications to trainees. At least 48 GO Graduates secured jobs or apprenticeships this year that provided an average hourly wage of $10.55.
In January, we expanded our partnership with A-B Tech Community College, to offer a new ‘front of house’ hospitality industry training program and career pathway, Table Service Essentials. We also opened a satellite location of A-B Tech’s Job Club at the Edington Center, providing 18 computers in a staffed employment lab for use by local job seekers and GO Graduates.
We bolstered our flagship culinary arts and building trades training programs this year in multiple ways.
GO Build students practice hands-on carpentry skills by constructing bird houses, under the direction of GO Build Instructor Eric Howell, a 2014 GO Build graduate.
The Green Opportunities building trades training program, previously known as Built Environment, was re-structured and re-launched as GO Build, a nine-month modular training program utilizing the Home Builders Institute Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) curriculum.
This fall, GO Build was awarded YouthBuild USA Provisional Affiliate status, and the Cycle 13 students began renovating a single-family home in the Asheville Housing Authority’s portfolio, in partnership with the Authority. GO was renewed as a certified Pre-Apprenticeship site by the NC Department of Commerce, and as such, the eight students who completed the first module of GO Build this November earned a certificate documenting completion of a NCWorks Pre-Apprenticeship Program in the occupation of Construction Craft Laborer. 79% of GO Build students enrolled in 2016 earned the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Safety certification.
An impressive 100% of students who enrolled in the GO Kitchen Ready program this year earned their ServSafe Food Handler certification from the National Restaurant Association. More than half of all students engaged in Kichen Ready were placed in six-week paid apprenticeships as part of our Work Experience Fridays program. Host sites included area institutions like Givens Estates and Biltmore Farms, as well as leading independent restaurants including The Admiral, Buxton Hall Barbeque, Chestnut, Corner Kitchen, and Curate. Several students also apprenticed with GO’s growing social enterprise, Kitchen Ready Industries.
Cycle 13 Student Michelle O’Dette plates desserts for a Kitchen Ready Pop-Up Dinner. Michelle was offered a position as garde manger chef at Curate, following a successful internship at the celebrated Asheville restaurant.
Cycle 13 Graduate Michelle O’Dette was the first GO Kitchen Ready graduate to be offered a job as a line cook with Heirloom Hospitality Group, which runs celebrated Asheville restaurants Curate and Nightbell. In October, a proclamation designating October 28 as ‘Hispanic Restaurateur Day’ in Asheville was presented to Cycle 12 Graduate Karla Castillo-Delgado by the Asheville City Council at City Hall. Karla is currently employed at a local catering company and working on the business plan for a Latin foods restaurant she plans to open locally.
As for community impact in the Southside neighborhood and beyond, Green Opportunities:
– served more than 15,000 meals to community members in the Southside Kitchen
– catered 100+ local events
– reclaimed nearly 2,000 square feet of oak flooring from the Edington Center gymnasium renovation, for use by Southside Woodworks
– hosted 2 career fairs at the Edington Center, and
– launched a partnership with the YMCA of WNC that brought the Y’s Healthy Living Mobile Market to the Edington Center once a month, providing free fruits and vegetables to GO students and Southside residents.
Thankfully, our hard work did not go unrecognized. GO was invited by the Amy Mandel & Katina Rodis Fund to host a Tzedek Social Justice Fellow for the second consecutive year, and we were selected to have a seat on the 16-member WNC Energy Innovation Task Force that launched in the spring. GO was awarded a ‘FreshLo: Fresh, Local and Equitable’ Planning Grant by The Kresge Foundation, one of just 24 organizations selected nationally from a pool of more than 500 applicants. The FreshLo grant is being used to expand the impact of GO’s healthy food access programs in the Southside community.
Finally, GO’s work was covered by the press throughout the year, including in the Mountain Xpress, Asheville Citizen-Times, WNC Magazine, and The Laurel of Asheville. As part of their in-depth series on poverty in Western North Carolina, the Citizen-Times featured three GO Graduates, Eric Howell, Kwana Bailey, and Keedrick Jiles, who are working hard to achieve economic security for themselves and their families.
We’re humbled to look back on all we have accomplished together during the past 12 months, and excited to look ahead to what’s in store for 2017. Stay tuned!