For nearly 125 years, the Grace Institute, a workforce development non-profit, has taken a holistic approach in empowering underserved women in New York City to achieve career-track employment and economic self-sufficiency, enabling them to make, rather than, miss opportunities. “We provide wraparound engagement with women in our training programs,” said Danae McLeod, Chief Executive Officer, Grace Institute. “We support them with food, transportation fare, counselling if needed, and other assistance until the women get their first paychecks. We also help with getting access to technology and the internet during training. As most of us found during the pandemic, access to this basic utility is, sadly, not so basic for many.”
Women who come to Grace Institute are enrolled in a 14-week program, where they spend 10 weeks learning hard and soft skills transferable to the workplace and four focused on how to conduct and complete an effective job search. Choosing either an office or healthcare administration track, women learn popular office software programs and other tools vital to succeeding in administrative assistant roles. They learn how to communicate effectively with co-workers, office etiquette, and business writing. Grace serves, on average, 220 women per year, and has a job placement rate of 75 percent within a year of graduation.
The Mizuho USA Foundation supports Grace’s Alumnae Upskilling program, which helps Grace graduates build off the knowledge they have gained in the workforce and develop more advanced skills to further accelerate their career. “Aside from being well-trained, our graduates are known for their dedication and ‘long haul’ mindset,” says Danae. “The Alumnae program funded by Mizuho furthers our culture of continuous learning. This combined with our organization’s longevity keeps our hiring partners coming back.”
In addition to funding, Mizuho mobilizes volunteers to hold annual mock interview workshops for Grace students, providing tips and critiques on resumes, presentations, and what to do before and after an interview. “Volunteering with the Grace Institute has been a rewarding experience” says Lu Wang, Community Engagement Co-Lead for the Mizuho Women’s Initiatives Network. “What began as an opportunity to give back has transformed into a learning opportunity for volunteers. We leave the sessions inspired by the resilience of these women and their unwavering drive to provide for their families.”
Sarah Kanes, Managing Director in Real Estate Investment Banking, has served as a board member for the workforce non-profit for about five years. “Over the course of my five years with Grace, I have seen how the organization effectively partners with hiring companies to create a dynamic learning environment - one that is ever evolving based on modern day job requirements,” said Sarah. “Grace is very adept at amending our offering based on feedback from employers, always in an effort to best serve our women.”
For more information on how to get involved, please contact the Grace Institute via their website.