On January 27, RWS celebrated the first contract win of the year, and since then, Regional Director Sara Dodeci and her team have been working non-stop to get the two new projects in the greater Memphis area ready to serve the community.

The Tennessee SNAP 50/50 Intermediary Project and the Memphis Tennessee Access Network Project will provide services under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to adults, Dislocated Workers and youth in Shelby, Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale counties in Western Tennessee. This model focuses on taking services and supports outside the American Job Centers and into the community through a network of community partnerships and alternative sites that increase the local service footprint and increase access and availability of WIOA services.

Both projects were forced to move to a virtual business model due to COVID-19 and began onboarding on March 16. The Memphis Tennessee Access Network Project Director Amber Covington spoke of the challenges they have faced. “Our project is literally a virtual start-up. Following onboarding, the team began training and working from home the very next day,” Amber said.

However, even with the challenges both projects have faced, they continue to hit the ground running. The Tennessee SNAP 50/50 Intermediary Project Director KaLisa Kimble said, “Like the Access Team, we are remote. This has not stopped us from completing our training.”

To date, both teams have completed the following training:

  • The BSC Certification
  • New Hire RTS Training
  • SNAP Training by their customer the State of Tennessee Department of Labor
  • Training on their Funder’s case management system
  • Various Service Delivery Team Trainings

KaLisa, Amber and The Memphis Tennessee Access Network Project Operations Supervisor Brian Wilks have also hosted program-specific training for their staff, such as WIOA 101, Service Overview, SOPs, Case Management Best Practices, Supportive Services and Wrap Around Services. They have also researched and identified potential partnerships.

Amber said, “Once all training has been completed, the staff will begin practicing virtual enrollments in the staging site to prepare for service roll-out in May. The plan is to host our first virtual meet and greet with potential access network partners at the beginning of the month. Brian and I recently received our first verbal agreement for an access point, which we will finalize in the next week or two.”

Both projects have a bright future ahead of them. It’s easy to see that coronavirus won’t stop these hardworking leaders and their dedicated teams from “working smart, doing good and getting better.”