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Work Based Learning Grant Empowers Underserved Communities Through Collaboration



Knox St. Studios, in partnership with RTriad and Access Center for Equity & Success, has been awarded a transformative $300,000 grant aimed at fostering work-based learning and leadership/entrepreneurship training opportunities for small businesses within underserved communities.


This collaborative effort, spearheaded by Knox St. Studios, in tandem with esteemed partners RTriad and Access Center for Equity & Success, marks a significant step towards bridging the gap in access to skill development and growth opportunities for small- and micro-businesses, particularly those navigating the challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. The Division of Workforce Solutions (DWS), entrusted with $2 million in ARPA funds, has championed this initiative as part of North Carolina’s “First in Talent” Plan and Governor Cooper’s NC Job Ready initiative.


Secretary of N.C. Commerce, Machelle Baker Sanders, remarked, “One strategy in our First in Talent economic development plan is to bolster a robust small business recovery in a way that includes rural communities, as well as women- and minority-owned firms.”


Governor Cooper echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the importance of workforce investments, stating, “Helping businesses train their workers and strengthen their pipeline of talent is critical to meeting the needs of our changing economy. Workforce investments like these grants will support not only the small businesses that are so important to our communities, but also the diverse North Carolinians who will be able to succeed in good jobs at these companies.”


The grant will facilitate targeted initiatives, including On-the-Job Training (OJT), Work Experience (WEX), and Incumbent Worker Training (IWT), all aimed at bolstering the skillsets of employees in small businesses. This comprehensive approach not only empowers businesses with a competitive edge but also contributes to the overall growth and resilience of the regional economy.


Talib Graves-Manns, Executive Director of Knox St. Studios, expressed enthusiasm for the endeavor, stating, “We are excited to expand our work to the Triad area, as we have strong relationships with small businesses based in the region. Additionally, we are very eager to pair the great labor talent produced in the region with more technical learning opportunities that will enable a stronger & more equipped workforce.”


Wilson Lester, President of Access Center, added, “Having the opportunity to work is one thing; having a shot at creating a job for yourself and others is another. We develop a workforce of employers, and this partnership will strengthen our ability to facilitate that reality.”


Kevin Robinson, RTriad CTO, emphasized their commitment to innovative collaboration, saying, “We have committed ourselves to innovative collaboration with passionate partners like Knox St. Studios to bring equitable solutions to underserved businesses and underrepresented talent in the IT industry. We know that digital transformation for small business is essential to their ability to compete and thrive in the current market. Also, cybersecurity competence is critical to their resilience in the most hostile economic conditions in a century.”


The grant's overarching goal is to foster a thriving ecosystem for small businesses, particularly in sectors most affected by the pandemic, such as manufacturing and hospitality. By providing valuable work-based learning opportunities and skill development pathways, this partnership aims to contribute to the holistic well-being of the communities it serves.

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About Knox St. Studios: Knox St. Studios is a dynamic organization committed to empowering individuals and communities through innovative education, training, and entrepreneurial programs. With a focus on work-based learning and leadership development, Knox St. Studios is dedicated to fostering a skilled and vibrant workforce.


About RTriad: RTriad Enterprises, LLC is a NC HUB certified cloud & cybersecurity services, training and consulting firm. They launched KnowWon.com , the world's first learning and career development community for IT professionals. The community includes networking with experts, mentoring, coaching that contributes to shortening the distance between experts and enthusiasts, transforming the potential of our human resource into a Talent as a Service workforce built for the Gig Economy, the future of work.


About Access Center for Equity & Success: About Access Center for Equity + Success: Access Center for Equity + Success is an organization focused on fostering equity, inclusivity, and opportunity within the construction industry. Through targeted training and supplier diversity pipeline development for public and private partners, Access Center for Equity + Success seeks to create pathways for individuals and communities to thrive.





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