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Barclays donates $500K to RISE teen career training

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Melody Phillips, The Warehouse; Briceson Bullard; Denny Nealon, Barclays; Cameron Bullard; Logan Herring Sr., The WRK Group; and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper pose following the gifting of Barclays donation Thursday. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

WILMINGTON – Barclays Bank became the single largest investor in The Warehouse’s teen career training program with a $500,000 donation Thursday afternoon.

Called Reaching and Investing in Youth for Sustainable Employment, or RISE, the 26-week program runs out of the Riverside nonprofit community center that provides teens and young adults, ages 14-24, with the skills needed to secure sustainable employment. In its inaugural program last year, 103 youth enrolled in the program, with 81 successfully graduating to externships.

The first eight weeks of RISE are spent developing soft skills such as financial literacy, time management, conflict resolution, and more. Participants spend the following eight weeks in an externship with one of The Warehouse’s employer partners connected to specific career pathways such as culinary, information technology, certified nursing assistant, and clinical medical administrative assistant certification. Finally, participants return to The Warehouse for individual coaching in resume building, job search/placement, and developing an individual service strategy for professional success. RISE participants are paid for 15 hours a week at $12 an hour throughout the 26-week training program.

In presenting the check to The Warehouse, Barclays U.S. Consumer Bank CEO Denny Nealon said that such partnerships were what underpinned the bank – the U.K. bank relies on co-branded products to advance its business here.

“It’s not enough just to be residents here, we have a responsibility to do good,” Nealon said at a Thursday press conference. “We try to find great organizations like [the Warehouse] because we find that we can work with local entities and help build successful, thriving communities, that creates a better home for all of us.”

Barclays’ donation will allow RISE to expand its existing employer partnerships with NERDiT NOW, Code Differently, and Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG), as well as offer new career pathways. The Warehouse has formed a partnership with Tapp Network for a digital media cohort launching next month and Planting the Seed for a future agricultural cohort. It is also developing partnerships with DE.TV and potentially neighboring H. Fletcher Brown Boys & Girls Club for music production.

With the expanded offerings, The Warehouse aims to enroll 170 youth into the RISE program this year, said Melody Phillips, operations manager of The Warehouse.

NERDiT NOW founder Markevis Gideon talks about the successes of Cameron and Briceson Bullard in the RISE externship. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

Among the first participants of the RISE program were brothers Briceson and Cameron Bullard, who completed externships with NERDiT NOW, a computer repair and IT company run by Warehouse board member Markevis Gideon.

The twin Bullards were studying to pass their CompTIA A+ certification exams that validate entry-level IT exams after spending time being mentored and taught by Gideon. Briceson has already passed one of the two exams.

“I think everyone should understand, it’s a 30% pass rate across the country on these exams,” Gideon said. “These are 16-year-olds kids who are passing these tests while others strive for years and don’t pass.”

Gideon said that people often equate his growing New Castle-based business with its appearance on “Shark Tank” three years ago, but they don’t see all of the hard work he put in from when he was a young Riverside teen growing up in the same neighborhood.

“It was one teacher who told me, ‘Let’s look at this computer and see how it changes the trajectory of your life,’” Gideon recalled, noting he got his certifications early, got a college education, spent five years in China and formed his own business. “You can’t become what you don’t see … so this one step can change the trajectory of their lives.”

Likewise, BPG accepted 20 RISE youth into externships at its leased restaurants like Le Cavalier and Bardea, among others. One of those teens so impressed the staff at Le Cav that she was offered a part-time job, while another teen who worked at Bardea was quickly hired by another restaurant after seeing his experience there.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) attended the Thursday afternoon press conference in Wilmington for the donation, extending his appreciation for the investment in the program. He also recalled how a similar opportunity helped create a better life for his family growing up working poor in West Virginia.

His father was working as an auto mechanic fixing wrecked cars at an Oldsmobile dealership when a Nationwide Insurance claims adjuster came to see a vehicle one day. As the two men talked about the vehicle, the adjuster opened a door for him.

“He said, ‘You know, you could do what I do. You know a lot about cars and what it would cost to fix them.’ A year later, my dad was a claims adjuster for Nationwide,” Carper said. “Twenty years later, he ran a national program for Nationwide training claims adjusters all over the country. He was just a guy from a coal mining town who learned on the G.I. Bill, but someone saw something in him.”

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