The Work Central Career Advancement Center
Purpose Prize Fellow 2008
Helping the working poor achieve self-sufficiency in the face of the loss of traditional industries
As a consultant to North Carolina’s Work First Business Council, a group of the largest employers in the state, Jackie Savage was assigned to help businesses hire former welfare customers. She saw firsthand how poverty and unemployment wreak havoc on North Carolina families. In 2000, Savage secured state funds to support innovative ways to prevent the working poor from falling through the cracks, creating the Work Central Career Advancement Center. By 2002, Work Central had become the central program of CONNECTINC, a non-profit telecommunication center. The organization, an innovative hybrid of traditional case management and communications technology, provides assistance in the area of career advancement, job retention, asset accumulation and reemployment. New case management software was developed by the organization to make customer service more efficient without sacrificing individual attention. The Departments of Health and Human Services in five North Carolina counties have taken notice and started using the software for their own clients. Connectinc’s Work Central program has helped more than 5,000 people find jobs in the past five years. The job retention rate: an impressive 86 percent. Connectinc programs have helped more than 1,000 dislocated workers find new jobs. Teach Central has assisted more than 300 new teachers with teaching ideas and ways to handle discipline with students, and helped more than 3,000 families find and secure tax assistance. Another program, Health Central, assists qualifying customers to obtain free prescription medications. Savage serves as President and leads Connectinc in their holistic focus on the customer. Staff members will make follow-up calls to customers to see what they can do to help, because a sick child, problems at school – or anything that happens in the family that pulls a person away from work and income – is a job retention issue.