FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Fayetteville City Council approved $742,223 in ARPA funds for Upskill NWA. It will go towards adding more positions and resources to a job training program. The program helps low-income earners get jobs in the medical field.
Carol Silva Moralez is the CEO of Upskill NWA. She has a passion for helping people. The funding from the city of Fayetteville will pay for training costs, required equipment, exam fees and any books a participant may need.
It will also grow the positions open in Fayetteville from 25 to over 50.
Upskill NWA works with local healthcare schools to get the participants to graduate. After that, they’re committed to an NWA healthcare institution for two years.
Usually, participants before the program will be making $20,000 or less annually. The program boosts the average salary by $15,000 or more.
“When they go from that starting salary that they came in at, to now making over $50,000 a year, it’s a significant financial impact. They’re going to invest the money exactly where they live and where they work,” said Moralez.
More healthcare workers are also needed in Northwest Arkansas. According to Martinez, 1,000 jobs in the field are opening annually. The area exports around $950 million in services to other states.
“When you consider that Northwest Arkansas wants to be a hub for health care, the infrastructure component is significant and the need to fill these jobs,” said Moralez.
Ana Martinez is a current participant of Upskill NWA. Through the program, she’s finally able to achieve her dream of becoming a registered nurse. Her entire education and resources for her education are paid for through the program.
“It’s been a seriously life-changing experience. I am able to become a role model for my children as well,” said Martinez.
She has two kids. Both, she’s hoping, will be inspired by her and follow in her footsteps. She thinks there needs to be more programs in Northwest Arkansas that help people get a higher level of education. She even spoke out at the Fayetteville City Council meeting about how Upskill changed her life.
When Martinez got out of high school, she wasn’t able to go to college due to her financial situation. Now, she’s being supported and is attending NorthWest Arkansas Community College. If all goes according to plan, she hopes to graduate in 2025.
She’s grateful to Upskill NWA, her teachers and supporters who have helped her get here.
“I cannot express how thankful and grateful I am for the opportunity just to be able to become accepted and be chosen to be one of the participants, ” said Martinez. “I know, it’s kind of hard to get into the program, but if anybody could apply, just give it a shot, it’s gonna be a life-changing experience.”
You can find out how to apply for the program here.