February 1, 2017 - For Immediate Release
Innovate+Educate, Dallas, Texas
Contact: Jamai Blivin, Founder & CEO, Innovate+Educate - (505) 780-8488 or
Nicole Tipton, Director of Marketing, Innovate+Educate - (505) 819-1740

Innovate+Educate, in partnership with Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas announce the launch of EARN DALLAS with support from Walmart. The initiative seeks to improve workforce outcomes with retail as a driving force in Dallas.

DALLAS, TX - Today, Innovate+Educate, a national nonprofit focused on new employment pathways leading to economic advancement, announced a 16 month $1.48 million-dollar grant from Walmart to continue their work to improve economic mobility in retail and adjacent sectors across Dallas and surrounding regions. 

In late 2015 Walmart provided its initial grant to I+E to launch the work in Dallas as part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s $100 Million Opportunity Initiative to help create economic mobility for entry level workers in retail and adjacent sectors. “We chose Dallas, Texas as the market for this work because of the tremendous growth in retail in Dallas (and Texas as a whole),” said Jamai Blivin, Founder and CEO of Innovate+Educate. “The data also showed a tremendous need for middle skill and supervisory positions in retail and adjacent sectors, making this region a great pilot City for us to develop a research-informed model to scale with employers.” 

The first grant worked with nine national employers located in the Dallas area to agree on a common framework for competencies, leveraging the work of the National Retail Service Initiative Competency Model (NRSI) model. Key employers and partners validated the skills and competencies necessary for advancement and further identified key training resources and partnerships to help ensure these competencies were included in the training provided to their entry level workers with the potential for advancement. Innovate+Educate validated core skills via an assessment developed by I+E, and employers worked with I+E and Dallas training partners over the past 15 months to assess, train and advance incumbents around the model. 

Key training partnerships across Dallas include Dallas County Community College District Supervisory Certificate, National Retail Federation, Western Association of Food Chains Retail Management Certificate and Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas. Over 800 incumbent workers received the assessment and/or training, with positive results coming from both incumbents and the employers involved. 

EARN Dallas launches Phase 2 of the work, continuing the technical assistance, assessments and training intersection with employers and candidates while bringing to market a platform technology solution that will continue to push opportunities for economic advancement to both job candidates and incumbent workers across Dallas by providing core skills assessments, mapping training resources and defining potential pathways and career opportunities across the region. The platform will leverage research from Phase I and will expand access and opportunity to jobseekers and incumbent workers while providing an additional resource to employers across the region. 

Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas provided an additional $300,000 in training funds to
candidates seeking retail jobs. "I+E’s efforts with the Dallas Regional Chamber and the Dallas WIB have led to the development of a retail sector strategy for Dallas that is co–led by I+E and the DFW Regional Workforce Leadership Council – which has received funding from the Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas Board to bolster retail workforce development efforts,” stated President of WFS Dallas Laurie Bouillon Larrea. 

“The growth of retail employment has left many employers with the challenge of providing clear advancement strategies for their employees, “said Luis Maes of Walmart. “The launch of EARN Dallas is an important step to engage retail workers and employers and bring together funders, training providers, government bodies, nonprofit organizations and the private sector to improve career pathways for people in the retail sector.”

Through the Opportunity initiative, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are working with a wide array of organizations across sectors to address a fundamental challenge in America—how to better train and advance workers in the retail and adjacent sectors. In helping workers build new job skills for a changing economy, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are playing important roles to strengthen the workforce system beyond Walmart’s four walls. To date, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have donated more than $50 million in grants as part of the initiative. 

“I+E’s central goal is economic opportunity for all, facilitated by a systemic behavior change framework. We are grateful to Walmart and the many partners in Dallas that have allowed us to do this meaningful work. By helping workers build new job skills for a changing economy, we’re hoping to play an important role in strengthening the workforce system for retail and adjacent sectors at large,” said Jamai Blivin.

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About Innovate+Educate: 
I+E is national nonprofit founded in 2009 in Santa Fe, New Mexico with a focus on industry driven solutions to education and employment. Innovate+Educate operates satellite sites in Albuquerque, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, Tampa and Washington DC Metro Area. Their vision is to create multiple pathways to employment based on competencies and skills. The work of I+E spans across implementation, assessment, and employment technologies. https://innovate-educate.org