THE CENTER FOR WORKING FAMILIES AND NEW HOPE ENTERPRISES ANNOUNCE MERGER
Philanthropic community responds with more than $650,000 in early investments towards a $1.6 million merger capital campaign.
Atlanta, GA (April 2017) – The Center for Working Families, a ten-year old workforce organization whose mission is to advance the economic security of hard-working families and their children through workforce development, economic supports and asset building announces it has merged with New Hope Enterprises (founded in 2009). Both nonprofits have operated independently to help disadvantaged individuals and families out of poverty through soft skills training and other support services, and in the process, established reputations as two of Atlanta’s leading workforce development agencies addressing place-based needs. The consolidated organization will operate as The Center for Working Families, Inc.
“We strongly believe that as one organization, we strengthen our position as Atlanta’s thought and practice leader in workforce development, and become the go-to for those with employment barriers and challenges in underserved communities,” said Ché Watkins, President and CEO.
Collaboration began in 2010 starting with cross-referrals, and by 2012 the organizations had begun joint service delivery as part of the Atlanta BeltLine Workforce Partnership, a 12-week training program designed to create pathways for individuals to be hired into full-time clinical and administrative positions within Grady Health System. In 2015, they began to formally explore merger options in response to queries from the philanthropic community with guidance and funding from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and consulting support from the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. Most of 2016 was spent in due diligence, and the merger became official on February 1 of this year. The funding community has embraced the merger with more than $600,000 pledged to date, including a just announced $250,000 gift from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation.
“Though much time and hard work has been spent on this merger, the decision to do it was an easy one after coming out of our strategic planning process,” said Rebecca Wallace, Chair of The Center for Working Families. “And we’ve never looked back. Not only do our services, staff and cultures blend together perfectly, the two boards of directors have been on the same page since day one.”
Indeed, both organizations’ programs and growth intentions are highly complementary, focused on workforce development in Atlanta’s deepest areas of need and providing training, employment, and supportive services. NHE delivers a national model for soft skills in STRIVE. The Center adds an additional layer through its coaching model, enhancing participants’ support both before and after employment. The integrated model was launched after the merger in February, with its first STRIVE class graduating 29 participants before entering one of three offered hard skills training options (construction, certified nursing and Microsoft operations).
“We complement each other in such a way that together we become a more dynamic, sustainable organization that expands our reach and deepens the impact for families and individuals,” says Angele Hawkins, Board member and NHE founder. “It really is a perfect marriage.”
With a history of serving primarily five neighborhoods in one of Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Units (NPU-V), the Center is now readied to expand its footprint including the Westside, where New Hope had been serving since 2014, and further, along the south Atlanta corridor.
“For the first time in years, there is a surge of development projects on the Southside of Atlanta, but currently no coordinated effort to ensure its residents have access, training, and connection to employment opportunities,” adds Watkins. “Now, The Center for Working Families can help to fill that void.”