The Ladder Alliance empowers at-risk women who are often victims of domestic violence to become self-sufficient. They are empowered through learning marketable job skills while at the same time rebuilding their self-esteem and self-confidence. The job skills learned are basic computer skills including keyboarding, Microsoft Word, Excel, email functionality and Internet usage. These skills are essential in today’s technological job market! In fact at a seminar hosted by Texas Workforce, the speaker stated that someone that doesn’t know how to use a computer has as significant a barrier to employment as someone who doesn’t know how to read.
In addition to office skills classes, we offer evening GED classes to increase the student’s potential for employment. Even after students acquire the marketable computer skills they need, if they don’t have a high school education their chances for finding employment are still limited.
Equally important to empowering our students is rebuilding the student’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Each class session begins with a motivational segment that encourages students to look inside themselves and find their infinite worth. One of the greatest rewards of working with the families is to watch the rebirth of positive self-esteem. Student transformation from an “I’m not capable” attitude to an “I can” attitude keeps volunteers and students engaged and excited.
When the program was being developed, the profile of the women to be served was researched to determine what type of barriers would hinder participation. It was discovered that more than 90% of these women are single mothers. Child care emerged as a critical factor and was included in the program. In order to facilitate excellent attendance, a light meal is served to the families prior to training classes. All these services are provided at no cost to students. The only cost to the student is her student training manual. If she isn’t able to pay for her manual, she can volunteer to cover the cost.
The first class began in January 2003 at a single location with seven students and four children who were referred by Women’s Haven, a local shelter for victims of domestic violence. When the third set of classes began, there were 36 students with 66 children representing four agencies in four donated locations. Consolidation to a central location became possible in September, 2006, when The Ladder Alliance moved into a central facility including offices, classrooms, a dining hall and childcare areas. This location is easily accessible on the bus routes making participation possible for many women who have no transportation.