With a new initiative, the Truman Heartland Community Foundation wants to enhance the job skills training programs of several area organizations and try to end more poverty cycles.

The program, Job Skills for New Careers, includes partnerships with the Community Services League, the Mid-Continent Public Library, the Herndon Career Center in Raytown and the University of Central Missouri, particularly its branch campus in Lee's Summit.

Truman Heartland set out to raise $120,000 to start the program in March, to fund job skills training for 48 people for high-demand jobs. Rachael Cassiday Watkins, director of programs and donor services, says the nonprofit is nearly 90 percent there – about $104,000.

“We spoke with 13 different organizations involved in job-skill training in one way or another over the course of six months,” Watkins said.

But they didn't find enough coordination or collaboration, and Truman Heartland leaders believed they could make the whole effort less fragmented.

“There might be a gap depending on someone's situation,” Watkins said. “If someone needs a high school diploma to be able to train for a job, we have the partner to help.”

Doug Cowan, president/CEO of the Community Services League, said this new initiative expands on the Bridges to Career Opportunities program CSL has done for a few years, using federal grant dollars for certified nursing assistant and welder training.

CSL also offers financial coaching, income support and employment counseling with its Bridges program.

“Truman Heartland is helping to broaden that conversation,” Cowan said. “They're trying to make it a regional partnership … helping put some gas on the fire.”

Herndon Career Center has technical educational programming for six local school districts and wants to expand to serve adult learners. The Job Skills initiative will help with that. Central Missouri, which has a broad number of relationships with area employers, will offer training in medical fields such as billing, pharmacy tech and phlebotomy.

Mid-Continent boasts extensive online education resources and serves as an important meeting site.

Truman Heartland is hosting two informational sessions prior to the first group of trainees in March. Those interested in applying for job training should attend one of the sessions:

• 7 p.m. Thursday, Mid-Continent Public Library South Independence Branch, 13700 E, 35th St.

• 7 p.m., Feb. 10, Mid-Continent Public Library North Independence Branch, 317 U.S. 24.

“People only know what they know,” Cowan said, “and part of what we're finding is the awareness – we need to make people aware of what's out there.

“That's where Mid-Continent comes in as the fourth partner. The libraries are where people meet.”

Applicants for Job Skills will be reviewed on a rolling basis. To learn more and apply for job training and support, go to newskills.cslcares.org. Mid-Continent will offer child programming at both informational sessions.

“We believe these organizations bring unique assets to the table,” Truman Heartland CEO/President Phil Hanson said in a release, “and by working together we can help people get connected to the trainings and resources they need to get on the path to a better job and a brighter future.”