Non-Traditional Employment Training Opens Door to Self-Sufficiency for Cheyenne Single Moms

Terrica Belle celebrates with her daughter Kaydence at Cheyenne CLIMB’s CDL Commencement

A group of courageous single mothers were celebrated last Thursday in front of a large crowd of family, friends and community supporters during the Cheyenne CLIMB Wyoming CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) commencement.

The ten women had just completed the 11-week CLIMB program and spoke about the incredible impact that CLIMB has made on them – increasing their self-confidence and providing not only job skills, but the tools to tackle the everyday challenges that could interfere with their long-term success . Positions for all ten women have been coordinated by CLIMB and seven of the ten women have already begun new short haul truck driving careers with Knife River, Simon Contractors, 4 Quarters Excavation, Western Trucking, Lowe’s Distribution Center, Arrow Moving and Storage and Croell Redi-Mix. These CLIMB graduates will receive an average of $14.50 per hour to start, wages that will allow them to support themselves and their children.

The CLIMB Wyoming program was founded in Cheyenne by Dr. Ray Fleming Dinneen in 1986 and offers programs to single mothers from Laramie County and the City of Cheyenne living at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. CLIMB also operates five sites across Wyoming in Casper, Gillette, Laramie, Sweetwater County and Teton County serving at total of 180 single mothers through 18 programs per year.

Since its inception in 1986, the Cheyenne CLIMB Wyoming Program has served approximately 665 low-income single mothers and 672 of their children from the Laramie County community. A total of 87% of participants have successfully graduated from Cheyenne CLIMB programs since inception. Last year, the Cheyenne graduation rate was 94%. Also cumulatively, the income for employed participants increased from $970 pre-program to $2,037 two years after program completion and their participation in public assistance programs like food stamps and public healthcare decreased, on average, by 33 percent.

CLIMB Wyoming programs are funded in part by the Departments of Family and Workforce Services, United Way of Laramie County, Laramie County, City of Cheyenne and countless private and corporate grants and donations.

CLIMB Wyoming’s CDL training started in 2004 after CLIMB’s research indicated that this non-traditional career would provide an avenue to self-sufficiency for low-income single mothers.

According to the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for both long and short haul truck drivers is projected to grow 21 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average growth for any other occupation. As the economy grows, the demand for goods will increase, and more truck drivers will be needed to keep supply chains moving.

“At first our short haul employer partners were hesitant to entertain the idea of working with us to meet their employment needs,” said Chelsey McManus, Cheyenne CLIMB Wyoming Program Director. “After gaining a better understanding of how CLIMB supports the relationship between employer and employee and after seeing the high motivation and skills of our trained graduates, their perceptions changed. In fact, during this program, Knife River hired two of our graduates before our program was completed based on their positive experience with their first CLIMB hire.”

CLIMB Wyoming’s commitment to researching relevant, fast-growing industries for its programs has led to impressive innovations. As the economy in Cheyenne started toward recovery after the economic downturn, CLIMB responded by researching and implementing innovative healthcare information technology trainings. These careers offer higher starting wages than more traditional trainings and are able to more quickly transition CLIMB participants to fiscal independence. CLIMB Wyoming’s training innovations also benefit the community as a new career training opportunity. CLIMB and Laramie County Community College have piloted a number of recent healthcare training programs including Health IT and Foundations for Medical Coding.

“Our commitment to industry research, training innovations and providing a relevant, well trained workforce for local employers is a key element of our program,” said Caren Murray, CLIMB Wyoming board member. “Staying ahead of the job trend curve ensures that we provide the women who commit to our program the highest possible chance at long term success.”

About CLIMB Wyoming
Founded in 1986, CLIMB Wyoming is a statewide nonprofit organization that trains and places low income single mothers in careers that support their families. CLIMB’s comprehensive model includes partnering with local employers to develop effective training and researching workplace trends to create future opportunities. Program participants are supported through job training and employment placement as well as counseling and life skills. CLIMB graduates consistently double their monthly income and decrease their reliance on public assistance programs. As a result, CLIMB Wyoming was recognized in 2012 as one of the nation’s top ten organizations that move families toward self-sufficiency