As we approach midsummer here in New York City, the New York Office’s flagship Providing Opportunity for Women’s Economic Resilience (POWER) program trainings are in full force. This program supports women’s economic empowerment in key growing sectors to foster self-sufficiency and upward mobility. From the beginning of New York City’s stay at home order, POWER has kept up with trainings and is offering current and new client’s virtual workshops to support their career development during COVID-19.
In March, POWER transitioned to virtual trainings and workshops to accommodate the new normal. Originally, POWER only offered three vocational trainings to female-identifying clients throughout the year, but in an effort to keep up morale, educational progress, and development, additional workshops were created for virtual engagement.
Specialized workshops for Medical Interpretation and Legal Interpretation were created to follow the initial Interpretation Training that had finished just before New York’s stay at home order. The additions of these workshops were established with the intention of providing students who have completed the precursor training with the opportunity to explore specializations within the field.
POWER’s Court Interpreter Study Group was developed for those interested in pursuing legal interpretation. This 8-week study group of review in preparation for the NYC Court Interpreter Exam and included a professional NYC Court Interpreter guest speaker. Closely following the NYC Court Interpreter Study Group, a Medical Interpreting 101 is also being offered to clients interested in pursuing medical interpretation – regardless of if they had participated in the NYC Court Study Group. The month-long Medical Interpreter workshop is lead by a professional Medical Interpreter covering topics such as: ethics, terminology, and patient safety. POWER staff have noted consistent interest and attendance for both workshops.
Simultaneously, POWER is currently halfway through its Childcare Training course, one of three core POWER offerings. There are two new features in the training this year, including a Childcare for Spanish speakers’ section and wellness check-ins. These wellness check-ins are led by a professional mental health facilitator, focusing on areas like self-care and stress management tools. Following this 7-week training, POWER will host a Teacher’s Assistant Workshop to help prepare interested students for the NYS exam.
The switch to virtual programming allowed POWER gave IRC the opportunity to reach a wider audience. For example, POWER’s Interpretation Training and Childcare Training were conducted simultaneously for the first time in POWER’s history, and class sizes are considerably larger than past in-person training as the limitations of physical space were not a concern. In the past, POWER’s Childcare Training was only conducted in English with integrated ESL supports, but this year an additional class for Spanish speakers was added, which greatly increased enrollment. Additionally, virtual trainings have been met with positivity by clients due to the flexibility of the programming. Clients have found it helpful to have trainings and workshops that they can access from their phone, tablets or laptop. Many POWER clients have kids or are caregivers. Virtual programming solves possible conflicts in childcare and commutes.
In these unprecedented times, POWER has quickly adapted to encourage resilience and provide clients with the tools necessary in pursuing their desired career paths. For the many challenges COVID-19 has presented for IRC clients and New York City, the silver lining of POWER’s expansion has been a happily development this year.
To support POWER and the incredible work of IRC economic empowerment staff, click here.