SSM Hires Graduates of Health Profession Opportunity Grant

Jessica_KimbleJessica Kimble (left) with her HPOG Case Manager at SLATE

Jessica Kimble was among those hired for DePaul Hospital; she said the program gave her the knowledge to finally get a job in the medical field, gain confidence in her chosen path, and that it sparked interest in a future healthcare career.

Jessica, 26, said her position at SSM is Clinical Partner, and that her duties will consist of helping patients with basic needs while they are treated in the hospital. In addition, she will be collecting data for use by nurses and medical personnel to help them better care for their patients. Short of administering medications, Jessica said she’ll be doing everything nurses normally do, helping with medical procedures, changing bandages, etc.

Jessica’s wages will start at $10.07 an hour, with an increase in January, when her rate will go up to $11 (plus the night shift differential).

Helping people has been Jessica’s dream since she was a child; however, entering the medical occupation wasn’t easy. After obtaining her CNA certification at age 17 and Associate’s Degree in Medical Administration, Jessica had difficulty passing her final certification exam and took jobs unrelated to healthcare. It was after graduating from HPOG that Jessica was able to get back on track in pursuit of her dream.

The statewide Health Profession Opportunity Grant, established at SLATE and other Missouri locations last year, aims at helping adult individuals, like Jessica, to obtain the certifications necessary for entry-level positions in nursing, pharmacy, emergency medicine and other healthcare occupations. These include Patient Care Support, Health Information Technology (HIT), Pharmacy Tech, Medical Assistant, Nursing Assistant, Clinical Partners, among others. Eligibility is based on an income requirement, residency in St. Louis City or County, an H.S. Diploma or GED, Assessment and Random Assignment (lottery).

Depending on the career pathway, classes consist of eight to 12 weeks of studies, combining classroom work at St. Louis Community College’s (STLCC) Forest Park campus and hands-on clinical practice at participating hospitals. The most valuable aspect of the program, Jessica said, was availability of supportive services offered. Her Case Manager at SLATE, Svetlana Kogan, was able to provide her with uniforms, transportation tickets, and other support. Her mentor at STLCC, Laurie Hawkins, assisted with filing forms and paperwork, books, necessary flu shots, tests and exams, and resume preparation.

“There were people at every level to support me and my classmates to help us succeed. Any question, any concern…being patient with me, telling us everything we needed to know. It definitely took stress out of our minds and helped find solutions… I would have never completed the program [without them]. They were 90 percent of my success.”

Jessica said she really enjoyed the practical, hands-on training aspect of the program and it was hugely important to her. She said that when she shadowed the nurse working on the floor handling her patients, she became convinced she had made the right choice of career track. “As long as you remain dedicated, committed and are willing to sacrifice, you’ll succeed,” said Jessica.

Not a stranger to SLATE, Jessica said she found her very first job through our summer youth program, working at Better Family Life, years ago. SLATE has now impacted the next stage of her life. Now, Jessica has set a new goal of becoming a CNA and is thinking about going back to school for her Bachelor’s Degree. She’s even considering using her knowledge and experience in healthcare to start her own business.


The House of Apprenticeships


Gino Austin, Apprenticeship Coordinator, displays the House of Apprenticeships at Ferguson 1000 Job Fair table

SLATE’s Special Projects Department has developed and is growing a House of Apprenticeships. The House is a collection of established ways to enter a number of industries as part of a Registered Apprenticeship – flexible training that offers immediate employment while receiving technical instruction and on-the-job learning.

Traditionally, Registered Apprenticeships are associated with construction-related trades such as plumbing and carpentry. However, this is no longer the case; nationwide, a movement is underway to create apprenticeship programs in IT, healthcare and other high-growth industries that offer livable wage entry level positions and career advancement.

SLATE’s House of Apprenticeships has already established program partnerships with Ranken Technical College (Advanced Manufacturing and Automotive Technician), EXPLORE St. Louis (Conventions and Tourism), Urban Labs Diagnostic Healthcare Solutions (Phlebotomy and Laboratory Technician), LUME Institute (Early Childhood Education), BLUE1647 (IT) and HOSCO SHIFT (Agri-Culinary). These newer programs supplement SLATE’s existing Building Union Diversity (BUD) initiative with numerous building trades.

This is only the start of an extensive planned network of apprenticeship opportunities throughout the St. Louis region – programs with over a dozen additional partners, of all kinds and sizes, are already in development. SLATE’s Special Projects Manager, Stacey Fowler, says “Apprenticeships have always been seen as another word for ‘blue-collar’, but this is definitely changing. Whatever the interests or abilities a jobseeker has, odds are we can help find an appropriate apprenticeship to match.”

The advantages of Registered Apprenticeships include wage increases, portable credentials, college credits, and experienced mentors in addition to the ability to ‘Earn as you Learn’.

Supporting SLATE’s Customers Interested in Becoming Small Business Owners

Micro Enterprise Competition

Check presented to Micro Enterprise Competition Winner, Chavelle Patterson

In the spring of 2014, SLATE entered into a new partnership with St. Louis Small Business Development (formerly Small Business Empowerment) Centers (SBDC) and the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) to help provide technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Even though SBDC has long supported the creation and growth of new businesses locally and regionally, this partnership with SLATE and SLDC focused primarily on dislocated workers within the City of St. Louis who seek employment services at SLATE. Through this collaborative effort, hundreds of SLATE customers interested in becoming entrepreneurs received extensive on-site training and counseling to help assess the feasibility of their ideas and develop a sound business plan. They also learned to successfully apply for loans, access a vast array of assistance in such areas as marketing, government procurement, international trade, accounting and cash flow. Most of these services were provided at no cost.

Lynn Larkin, owner of Design Extra LLC, an interior design firm that specializes in senior living, residential, hospitality and corporate projects, attributed her success in part to the FastTrac for New Ventures program which helped her getting started with legal framework, copyrights and trademarks, the company’s name and logo, taxes, insurance and leadership skills.

Lynn Larkin

Lynn Larkin, owner of Design Extra, LLC

Lynn Larkin’s firm reported impressive revenue of $600,000 in 2014, but she believes this is just the start of bigger and better developments and is committed to continued learning.

“I need to work more on cash flow projections, marketing, and business development – also constantly to learn about managing money and employees.” She said that FastTrac encourages participants to meet one-on-one outside the class and learn more about each other. She believes this approach can result in connections that could potentially develop into unique new markets.

FastTrac also helped Euylan Welch, Executive Chef/Owner of Welch One Catering, a food service provider for schools, small companies, breakfast meetings and special events, realize his passion for food into lasting business success.

Euylan Welch

Euylan Welch, Welch One Catering

“If you ask me how to make a chicken, I can tell you a hundred of different ways, but if you tell me to go fill out some forms – I don’t know how to do that,” said Welch. He enrolled in the Micro Enterprise Competition at SLATE to receive business training and learn how to write a business plan.

“When I got my business plan done, people were looking at me differently. Suddenly, I wasn’t just a kid making food for fun; I was ready to step up my company’s growth using food as a vehicle, “Welch said.

He now has 14 full time and 25 on-call employees, preparing and delivering food from this location. Welch One has survived major economic dropdowns, and Euylan has plans to further expand by opening a restaurant in St. Louis.

A Missouri born design engineer, Douglas Ford, joined the ranks of entrepreneurs after his 14 year tenure at Chrysler ended in August of 2009. He developed and patented a vertical directional drilling method and a matching drill bit to effectively break the toughest rock formations, now used by most utility companies in Missouri. He owns U.S. Drilling Products and aims not only set a new standard for utility construction domestically but to develop a more rapid and efficient process that can be exported to rest of the world.

Douglas Ford

Douglas Ford, U.S. Drilling Products

Ford attributed much of his start-up success to the FastTrac program (funded by Chrysler for their displaced workers). “[Originally] I was going to do mom-and-pop thing out of my garage, but this was taking off and running further and faster than I could ever have imagined,” said Ford.

Micro Enterprise winner, Ford, learned how to think outside-the-box and constantly look for new opportunities. In 2013 he successfully applied and won an additional $50,000 Arch grant which he spent on product development and increasing market share.

Kevin Wilson, SBDC Director, summarized his years of experience in helping new entrepreneurs: “Whatever the industry they are interested in, students ask the same questions. They want to know about the same principles – leadership, accounting, and attracting funding.”

To better serve emerging entrepreneurs, SLATE never stops expanding the array of services offered. New in 2015, were legal workshops and one-on-one counseling sessions on issues such as contracts, employment law, and intellectual property, among others. Additional, more focused small business workshops were held on such topics as negotiating leases, joint ventures vs. partnerships, W/MBE contracts, bidding and bonding.

Small business owners with questions about any of the topics from the previous seminars have an opportunity to meet and consult with a legal expert from Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM), a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides legal assistance to the low-income community.

Four of St. Louis’ newest entrepreneurs – winners of the popular Micro Enterprise Competition – were celebrated at the awards ceremony at T-REX, on August 24, 2015. SLATE Executive Director, Michael Holmes, congratulated their ideas and efforts and emphasized that entrepreneurship is an “ongoing journey.” “We hope you’re moving forward, but this isn’t the end. [SLATE] is here to help, we’ll always be there.”