The mission of the Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation is to move Latinos out of poverty by providing self-awareness, education, a pathway for youth, training and workforce development, economic development, and empowerment to create economic wealth and opportunities in the county of Berks.
A Greater Reading free of poverty and economic barriers which provides quality employment and economic equity for all Latinos in Berks County.
In 2018, the Wyomissing Foundation proposed the establishment of a workforce development model to address the issues of poverty that the city of Reading was facing. The Wyomissing Foundation approached the Spanish American Civic Association (SACA) given their success in the city of Lancaster, particularly through their Tec Centro establishment. Following this proposal, Carlos Graupera, SACA’s founder and current president initiated a series of meetings with local professionals interested in establishing this best practice model in the city of Reading. Local professionals of various industry backgrounds volunteered their time to join startup discussions after responding to a broad and open invitation to all community leaders, business leaders, and stakeholders in the Berks County region.
Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation board consists of diverse community leaders. These Board members have offered comprehensive technical assistance and organizational leadership, allowing for the organization’s early milestones. In May 2019, Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation (BLWDC) was incorporated as the official entity that would represent the workforce development objectives intended to model after SACA-Tec Centro. One year after its incorporation, Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation successfully obtained official 501(c)(3) status.
Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation has received seed money from various philanthropic missions including the Wyomissing Foundation and Santander Bank. Additionally, in February 2020, Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation hired its first official staff member, a new executive director. Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation previously shared space at the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) up and until the purchase of their current facilities.
In April 2020, Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation completed a strategic plan where it identified that the highest priority needs for the county of Berks in relationship to labor demand are in construction, welding, computer coding for manufacturing, medical assistance, hospitality, and culinary arts, patient care tech, and dental assistance. However, since the completion of the strategic plan in April and the ongoing effects of COVID-19, these priority areas have changed. Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation has made significant changes to address both ongoing and new circumstances in the labor industry or local economy in Berks County. The new plan also facilitates more virtual learning opportunities for community residents with a high level of supportive services.
In July 2021, Berks Latino Workforce Development purchased the property located at 450 South 6th Street in Reading, PA, which services as their current offices and technical center. Consistent with Berks Latino’s vision and start-up discussions the organization was able to achieve a location within the city of Reading that allows Berks Latino Workforce Development to expand its intended scope of services.
Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation has joined collaborative efforts with the city of Reading Community Development Department and local nonprofits to support residents and local businesses to improve the region’s population health. Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation (also referred to as Berks Tec Centro) will offer a workforce and economic development intervention by implementing occupational training in both non-biotech and biotech, professional development, job readiness, and certification programs to residents in the county of Berks. Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation is also receiving the support of the city of Reading in relocating to a new space that can create a sense of neighborhood identity and allow for easy mobility. Lastly, Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation is in partnership with IBM SkillsBuild Re-Ignite through Partner4Work to offer virtual occupational training at no cost to program participants in both English and Spanish.
All occupational training programs offered by Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation will allow participants to obtain role-based training and advanced certifications but also concurrently bridge participants to either English as a Second Language (ESL), high school equivalency, soft skills, job readiness, professional development, and college readiness. All program tracks are expected to be offered in English and Spanish. Some tracks will be limited to the English language depending on state, federal, or corporate certification requirements.