CareerWork$® Announces Kiana Williamson as the Latest Recipient of the Marc Hill Rising Star Award 

Before her involvement with BankWork$®, Kiana Williamson worked as a cashier in Whittier, California. As a single mother, she navigated the challenges of living paycheck to paycheck, often sacrificing weekends and holidays without the support of benefits. Her aspiration was to establish a career that allowed her to apply her mathematical skills, promising a brighter future for herself and her daughter. When she discovered BankWork$ at JVS SoCal, she believed it could be the ticket she was looking for. 

“The BankWork$ program taught me how to dress and speak professionally. We had mock interviews and role-played to provide the best customer experience,” said Kiana. Earlier this year, she graduated from BankWork$, marking a deeply personal achievement she hadn’t experienced before. She invited her family, including her father, who was especially proud to see her graduate. 

Jynelle Sumera, Kiana’s instructor, witnessed her incredible growth throughout BankWork$. In Jynelle’s words, “This past year, Kiana decided she wanted more for herself and her daughter. At the beginning of the program, Kiana was reserved, shy, and often second-guessed herself. However, something inside Kiana shifted after the initial weeks. She fully embraced the program’s teachings, showing up early for class, dressed professionally, and always prepared. Her voice grew louder, and her confidence soared. She not only participated actively but excelled in class, becoming the next-level version of herself. Kiana’s transformation served as an inspiration to all of us.” 

Kiana reflects on Jynelle as a compassionate instructor. “She has changed my life in so many ways by providing me ongoing support in the most uncomfortable situations,” said Kiana.  She was not just an instructor to me; Jynelle is a mentor and a friend who pushed me through this process even when I was experiencing personal challenges. Because of Jynelle’s support, I am a much more confident person.” 

Today, Kiana works full-time at Banc of California, where her goals are to continue to learn and grow while she has found the work-life balance and economic independence that she and her daughter deserve. 

Kiana was recently surprised with her celebration ceremony for winning the Marc Hill Rising Star Award, where she was joined by her former instructors, her team at Banc of California, and the entire CareerWork$ team.

The Marc Hill Rising Star Award recognizes a graduate of our BankWork$ or CareerWork$ Medical® programs each quarter who has shown significant personal growth and transformation from the start of their class until their graduation. Each award recipient receives a certificate and a cash award to enhance the start of their new career. 

The award is an integral part of CareerWork$’s ongoing effort to create pathways to meaningful careers. It also honors the life, work, and legacy of the late Marc Hill, who was an instructor for both the BankWork$ and CareerWork$ Ready programs at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. Marc passed away in late 2020, but the lessons he shared with his students epitomize our organizational values: respect, collaboration, equity, and inclusion. 

Learn more about The Marc Hill Rising Star Award.

Turning the Page: Patrick Burke’s Journey from Odd Jobs to Banking 

Patrick Burke’s career journey had been a winding path. Bouncing from job to job to make ends meet, he went from working at a pet fulfillment center to becoming a commercial driver and later a warehouse manager. In January 2023, he stumbled upon an online ad for the BankWork$ Fundamentals program. Although Patrick was intrigued by the idea of working at a bank, he was worried about who would be willing to train him at his age. However, after a personal phone call from instructor Tanya Bashor, he was convinced to take a chance on the program. 

With no prior knowledge of the financial services industry, Patrick was concerned about learning the ins and outs of banking. “Before this class, I had never owned a professional outfit, and I’m thankful this class taught me how to dress professionally and present myself in an interview,” said Patrick. “I was nervous but excited. I had to learn various banking terms and processes, which felt overwhelming at first. But I persevered, and slowly, things started making sense. Banking was a new world for me, but I was able to find connections to all of my previous experiences, especially in customer service.” 

Tanya Bashor, Patrick’s instructor, spoke highly of him, noting his remarkable determination throughout the application process. “Patrick was very communicative about his concerns, but he always approached it with a growth mindset. He knew that this change in his career could positively impact his earning capacity in the future and set him on a path to a new career,” said Tanya. 

After graduating from BankWork$ Fundamentals in June 2023, Patrick was hired by First Commonwealth Bank and began his new role as a Financial Solutions Specialist in July. He shared, “When I started handling transactions, I could recall lessons I learned from class. On days when I’m not busy, I always try to learn something new. There have been a couple of times when I’m sitting in the bank, looking out the window, where I wish I had found such an opportunity earlier in my career because I appreciate the stability and respect that come with this role. I’m a single dad with custody of my kids, and they’ve been able to witness my journey and feel proud of my accomplishments. They got to see me go through the program, and I’m so much happier knowing I made the right choice.” 

When asked for advice for someone in a similar situation, Patrick emphasized the importance of making a list of career options and realistically evaluating each one. He recommended the BankWork$ Fundamentals program as an excellent entry point into the banking industry, highlighting the potential for growth and job security. 

Learn more about BankWork$ Fundamentals. 

BankWork$ To Expand to South Florida with New Partner: OIC of South Florida

View original press release here.

OIC of South Florida announced today that it will begin offering a brand-new training curriculum focused on preparing individuals for careers in the financial services industry. The program, called BankWork$®, begins October 9, 2023, and is a free, eight-week program offering expert-led, in-person and online sessions designed to help individuals develop the practical skills, knowledge and tools needed to pursue rewarding careers and advance in the dynamic financial services sector.

What sets the BankWorks$ program apart is its commitment to holistic development. The result of a strategic partnership between OIC of South Florida, CareerWork$® and The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), BankWork$ consists of a comprehensive curriculum that teaches banking and financial services fundamentals along with interactive, hands-on sessions centered on workforce readiness, digital literacy and employment soft skills. Upon completion, OIC of South Florida will also provide job placement assistance to help students land jobs at leading banks and credit unions in the local community.

“CareerWork$ is excited to partner with OIC South Florida to bring BankWork$ to Broward County,” said Ranko Fukuda, Interim Executive Director at CareerWork$. “With the support of the local financial services employers, we look forward to launching many new careers with excellent growth potential in South Florida!”

The partnership allows OIC of South Florida to not only continue its focus on developing in-demand skillsets, it also creates an opportunity to prepare and develop a talent pipeline for careers needed now in the modern banking industry.

“Our partnership with CareerWork$ and CAEL is invaluable to us as we continue to expand our programs to meet the immediate hiring needs of employers in our South Florida communities. This is a transformative step that empowers our community members and our employer partners to thrive,” said Newton Sanon, CEO and President of OIC of South Florida. “In a rapidly evolving financial services landscape, access to comprehensive education and practical skills is vital. BankWork$ will open doors to meaningful careers and contribute to the economic advancement of individuals and families across South Florida.”

Graduates of the program will be well-equipped to excel in entry-level positions at local banking institutions and embark on a promising, upwardly mobile career path.

“CAEL thanks OIC of South Florida for leading the charge to provide access to this short-term career-training program to the local community through Truist Foundation’s Where It Starts: Build Better Careers initiative,” said Earl Buford, president of CAEL. “Our partnership is just getting started and shows great promise as we work together to create education-to-career pathways for more individuals in the South Florida area to connect with good jobs in the financial services sector.”

OIC of South Florida invites individuals who are seeking to launch their careers in the banking industry to apply for the BankWork$ program. For eligibility criteria and application details, download our flyer.

To learn more about OIC of South Florida’s Youth and Family Services programming and more, visit


BankWork$ To Expand to Charlotte, North Carolina with New Partner: Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont

View original press release here.

Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont is partnering with CareerWork$® and The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to train and upskill people in the Charlotte region for careers in banking.

The Charlotte region is home to more than 91,000 financial services jobs, and it is the second-largest banking center in the nation. With no other workforce development programs dedicated to the finance industry in the greater Charlotte region, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont is expanding its training division to offer the BankWork$® program so that people have equitable access to career development opportunities.

“We envision a community where equitable access to career opportunities is available for all,” said Chris Jackson, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. “We recognize that skilled training is an essential part of helping to build our growing city, and having these skills can lead to in-demand, high-potential careers. We’ve come together with CAEL and CareerWork$ to make the path to these careers possible in one of our community’s top industries.”

CareerWork$ partners with experienced workforce development and nonprofit organizations, like Goodwill, around the country to operate their programs. On a national level, the BankWork$ program has a 73% placement rate.

“CareerWork$ is thrilled to partner with Goodwill Industries of Southern Piedmont to bring BankWork$ to the Charlotte region. Through this partnership, we hope to help many in the community launch careers with excellent growth potential in the financial services industry,” said Ranko Fukuda, interim executive director.

BankWork$ is an eight-week intensive workforce services program that will give people the skills, access, and coaching needed to succeed and grow in banking careers—from understanding the financial services workplace to bank regulations, bank products, cash handling, and processing customer transactions. Graduates are prepared for roles such as: Associate Banker, Branch Banker, Client Services Representative, Lead Teller, Member Service Consultant, Personal Banker, Relationship Banker, Teller, and Call Center Representative.

Additionally, the program will engage prospective employers in the community during the duration of the program to provide industry insight and integrated recruitment opportunities.

“We look at the local business needs and participant opportunities to prosper when developing training programs for our nonprofit,“ said Raquel Lynch, chief program officer for Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. “In addition to providing BankWork$ to the Charlotte community, participants enrolled in this program will also have access to family stability services, a Career Navigator and Employer Engagement Specialist for assistance with interpersonal skills, mock interviews, resume preparation, and help landing the job.”

Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont uses the revenue generated from the sale of donations throughout our retail stores and online, philanthropic donors, and grants to provide employment, job placement, job training, and certifications and credentials for anyone looking to improve their skills and grow their careers. The BankWork$ program is also offered free of charge but will provide participants with a stipend of $15 an hour during their training to support them on their journey toward a new career.

“CAEL is grateful for Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont’s leadership in bringing this much-needed short-term career training program to the Charlotte community through Truist Foundation’s Where It Starts: Build Better Careers initiative,” said Earl Buford, president of CAEL. “We’re excited to see how our partnership with Goodwill and CareerWork$ continues to unfold as we work together to create opportunities for more individuals in the Charlotte area to connect with good jobs in the financial services sector.”

CareerWork$® Announces Lulama Nzimande as the Latest Recipient of the Marc Hill Rising Star Award 

CareerWork$ is delighted to announce the selection of Lulama Nzimande, an April 2023 graduate of the BankWork$® program from our training partners at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, as the sixth recipient of the Marc Hill Rising Star Award! 

Lulama’s journey began in her birthplace of South Africa, where she bore witness to the country’s evolution from apartheid to democracy during her formative years, instilling in her a deep respect for diligence and advancement. Fueled by a recognition of insufficient financial awareness and empowerment among women, her path led her into the realm of financial services. Reflecting on her experiences, Lulama shared, “The positive changes I’ve seen in South Africa represent my enduring compassion for individuals who exemplify profound humanity.” 

Before enrolling in BankWork$, Lulama was already employed full-time as a dedicated caregiver. Her instructor, Tracy Hinman, mentioned that Lulama was “undeterred by her busy schedule; she adjusted her hours to coincide with the program’s classes. Juggling overnight shifts while consistently being prepared for class, Lulama’s determination stayed unwavering. She approached her assignments diligently, participated actively in class discussions, and maintained an incredibly positive attitude.” 

After graduating from BankWork$, Lulama secured a position as a Remote Contact Center Consultant at BECU, a month after her graduation. Her dedication, hard work, and commitment paid off, propelling her into the financial sector with confidence and purpose. 

 “After winning the award, I couldn’t help but let my emotions overflow as it dissolved any lingering doubts I had about the worthiness of my journey,” said Lulama. “The unwavering support from BankWork$ and the YWCA touched me deeply, serving as a reminder that I wasn’t navigating this path alone. As a woman and a person of color, it means a great deal to me. It gives me hope. Moreover, it compels me to give back to the community, to anyone I come across. I have a desire to contribute, whether through time, financial assistance, referrals, or resources. It motivates me to be a responsible citizen.” 

The Marc Hill Rising Star Award recognizes a graduate of our BankWork$ or CareerWork$ Medical® programs each quarter who has shown significant personal growth and transformation from the start of their class until their graduation. Each award recipient receives a certificate and a cash award to enhance the start of their new career. 

The award is an integral part of CareerWork$’s ongoing effort to create pathways to meaningful careers. It also honors the life, work, and legacy of the late Marc Hill, who was an instructor for both the BankWork$ and CareerWork$® Ready programs at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. Marc passed away in late 2020, but the lessons he shared with his students epitomize our organizational values: respect, collaboration, equity, and inclusion. 

Learn more about The Marc Hill Rising Star Award. 

Transforming Lives in Healthcare: Karina Gallardo’s Impact in CareerWork$ Medical

With her warm and welcoming demeanor, Karina Gallardo has been a guiding force, shaping the aspirations of future healthcare professionals at JVS SoCal’s CareerWork$ Medical program in Los Angeles. 

Starting as a medical receptionist, Karina understands the intricacies and demands of the administrative side of healthcare. Through her own journey from volunteering to interning, she gained invaluable insights into the healthcare ecosystem, allowing her to relate intimately to her students’ aspirations and challenges. 

Karina’s healthcare journey began in high school where she volunteered, and it continued throughout her college years. She combined her biology studies with internships, creating a blend of education and practical experience that prepared her for her initial professional role in healthcare. During college, her journey continued as she interned while pursuing her biology studies, ultimately paving the way for her entry into the healthcare field. Her additional pursuit of counseling psychology further solidified her passion for working with students, leading her onto the path of teaching. 

Her introduction to the healthcare field involved internships and volunteering at the Los Angeles General Medical Center. She started as a Receptionist at Adventist Health White Memorial, later progressing to become a Program Coordinator, showcasing her growth and unwavering dedication. 

Motivated by her interest in counseling psychology and a strong desire to assist students, Karina found her calling in teaching through CareerWork$ Medical. Her background as a healthcare professional enables her to embody empathy and compassion, qualities she instills in her students. Her story stands as an inspiring example for those aspiring to enter the healthcare field. “I adore working with students and always yearned to teach, and CareerWork$ Medical has granted me that opportunity,” Karina stated. 

As an instructor, Karina has found her calling. With an affable and confident demeanor, she comfortably addresses her students, drawing from her own experiences to guide and enlighten them. “I think everyone comes with a little bit of hesitation about starting this program. But what I can say is, think about the bigger picture. Look at the light at the end of the tunnel. It might seem so far off, but once you’re done and once you’ve arrived, it will be worth it, because you can take this anywhere,” she advises her prospective students with an air of assurance. 

Throughout her career, Karina has embraced valuable lessons, one being the importance of building connections with her students. Understanding that trust can’t be forced, she strives to create an environment of understanding and respect, recognizing that everyone comes from unique walks of life. “I think it definitely comes back to my background. Counseling psychology has been very helpful in working with different type of characters and personalities, different people being adaptable, being flexible to everyone’s differences,” she explains. Her flexibility and adaptability shine through, making her classroom a place where every student feels valued and heard. “If we can mirror empathetic language throughout our classroom setting, we can bring that into the field,” she shares, emphasizing the significance of empathy in the healthcare industry. 

Karina sees being an instructor as more than just teaching. It’s about forming real bonds with her students, helping them develop, and cheering for their achievements. She feels incredibly happy when she witnesses her students beginning their healthcare careers or using their skills in different parts of life. 

Learn more about CareerWork$ Medical at JVS SoCal Los Angeles. 

Empowering Dreams: How BankWork$ Led Jasmine Grant to a New Career in Financial Services

After relocating from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh, Jasmine Grant found herself at a crossroads in life. Her previous path was leading her towards a career in law, but as she delved deeper into her options, Jasmine discovered her true passion resided in the financial services industry. Determined to follow her heart, she decided to enroll in BankWork$ at Energy Innovation Center with Partner4Work. Under the guidance of her instructor, Carmen Williams, she found a supportive and inclusive atmosphere that eased her transition. 

“BankWork$ equipped me with valuable skills and knowledge,” said Jasmine. “The program not only covered rules and regulations but also provided practical scenarios, allowing me to simulate real-world interactions with customers which I still do today. Pretty much everything was useful. BankWork$ was very thorough in educating us on how to deal with and operate with customers.” 

As the program progressed, Jasmine honed her skills and gained valuable knowledge, preparing her for a successful career in banking. At the end of her time in class, she interviewed with local banks and credit unions. Eventually, she chose to start her career at First Commonwealth Bank. 

Jasmine couldn’t emphasize enough the impact Carmen had on her journey. She said, “Ms. Carmen’s support was not just for me, but for everyone in that classroom. She was supportive, understanding, and always available to us in many ways. She always took the time to make sure that we were equipped to be a part of this field. Regardless of the challenges I encountered, Ms. Carmen’s unwavering support and availability were instrumental. There was no issue that I had that I couldn’t come to her with, whether personal or work-related. She really changed my life,” said Jasmine. 

Reflecting on having Jasmine as a student, Carmen said, “I loved having Jasmine in the class; she was very outgoing and outspoken. She was always eager to ask questions, and despite having a lot of personal changes happening in her life, she didn’t let it stop her from excelling. I’m so happy she chose First Commonwealth Bank; they’ve hired multiple BankWork$ graduates, and it’s a perfect fit for her inquisitive nature.” 

Jasmine’s story is just one of many uplifting tales of how BankWork$ helps participants all over the country achieve their dreams. The program has a positive generational impact on the families of its graduates, empowering them with financial independence and stability. 

For Jasmine, her biggest inspiration and source of joy are her two daughters. “Their enthusiasm, resilience, and talents motivate me to be the best version of myself every day,” noted Jasmine. BankWork$ is an amazing program that goes beyond finding employment—it genuinely helps people. 

Learn more about BankWork$ at Energy Innovation Center with Partner4Work. 

From Russia to KeyBank: Yulia Maltseva’s Road to Success in Financial Services

Yulia Maltseva’s journey in financial services originally began in Russia, where, as a young adult, she developed a passion for accounting. After moving to the United States in 2019, she found ways to pursue her interest by volunteering in the accounting department at Goodwill Seattle. After discovering the BankWork$ program at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish through a coworker, she made the decision to apply to enhance her skills and further her career. 

Although Yulia initially encountered difficulties in communicating with others in class, she made significant progress over time. Refusing to give up, she persevered until she successfully graduated. “My instructors, Tracy and Melanie, were very patient with my language challenges and provided me with valuable knowledge about the customer side of financial services, such as teller transactions and client interactions,” said Yulia. 

After graduating from BankWork$ in November 2022, Yulia’s dedication paid off as she secured a Financial Wellness Consultant position at KeyBank after a successful interview. “My job at KeyBank is incredibly fulfilling, and I really love working with clients from diverse backgrounds, including many from Russia. Utilizing the banking system, setting up appointments, and engaging in discussions are new skills to me that I’ve learned to really enjoy, and being able to assist clients while pursuing my own financial growth makes my job truly rewarding,” said Yulia. 

Yulia recommends the BankWork$ program to individuals aspiring to secure rewarding jobs in the banking industry. “My advice would be to embrace the challenges, persevere through setbacks, and make the most of the resources and support offered by BankWork$. It doesn’t matter if you want to continue your career in the banking industry or to move into other business areas—the skills you learn will help you anywhere.” 

Learn more about BankWork$ at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. 

Rising Above: Angel Hall’s Journey to Find a Rewarding Career 

After Angel Hall experienced a difficult period where she lost her job and was separated from her children, she felt like she was stuck. Instead, she joined CareerWork$ Ready at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, graduating in August 2022, and she now enjoys her career as an AP Coordinator. 

“In early 2022, I got into some trouble due to a difficult life situation,” said Angel. “I lost the job I had been working at for five years, and it was undoubtedly my lowest point. However, my friends encouraged me to give CareerWork$ Ready a try, which is where I started to find hope through tremendous support.” 

Upon starting CareerWork$ Ready, a free job-readiness program designed for adults seeking their first job, Angel connected with her instructor, Angeline Sullivan, who played a crucial role in her transformation. “Angeline believed in my potential and helped me regain my confidence,” explained Angel. “She made me feel comfortable. I’m a very shy person, but after getting in there and talking to different people, I realized I’m not alone in my situation. There are actually a lot of people who have dealt with what I’ve dealt with. They pretty much let you know that life’s not over.” 

Initially hesitant and reserved, Angel gradually found her voice within the CareerWork$ Ready program. She recalled, “I was quiet at first, but after the first week, I was raising my hand and answering questions.” While enrolled in the program, Angeline provided unwavering support by praising her progress and celebrating her achievements. This encouragement and sense of belonging empowered Angel to thrive. 

After completing the program, Angel’s transformation continued. Equipped with newfound skills and confidence, she swiftly secured a job aligned with her aspirations. She explained, “Through CareerWork$ Ready, I learned a lot about interview techniques and was able to find a job that I love.” 

In her current role as an AP Coordinator, Angel’s day-to-day tasks involve managing vendor payments, resolving account issues, and overseeing budgeting. Having earned promotions and the trust of her company, Angel has successfully taken charge of major accounts alongside handling smaller ones. Her job has provided her with newfound confidence and a sense of accomplishment. 

Angel feels grateful for CareerWork$ Ready and the ongoing support she continues to receive from her former instructors. “It’s nice to know that I have the support of Angeline, the CareerWork$ team, the YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish team, and that people care enough to make sure I’m okay,” said Angel. 

Learn more about CareerWork$ Ready at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. 

From Tragedy to Triumph: Sabrina Green’s Journey to Success in Financial Services 

In 2011, Sabrina Green put her career on the backburner, after the birth of her daughter, to support her growing family. However, Sabrina’s life took an unexpected, tragic turn when her daughter passed away suddenly at ten years old. While navigating through tremendous grief, Sabrina learned to believe in herself and pick up the pieces of her life, and after graduating from BankWork$ at Philadelphia OIC in 2021, she now works as a Personal Banker at Santander Bank.

“When my daughter passed away, I wanted to give up, but I knew I couldn’t,” said Sabrina. “I knew I had to do something to restart my life. I had a few retail jobs, but I didn’t know what I could find without having professional experience. I looked online for free programs, which is where I found BankWork$ at Philly OIC.”  

At 30 years old, Sabrina started the BankWork$ program in September 2021 and graduated in December. Although she didn’t know what to expect when she first started, she enjoyed the process of dressing professionally, which made her begin to change her mood in a more positive direction. Sabrina found learning the information in BankWork$ a breeze, while she gained a sense of confidence, and formed bonds with people from different ethnicities. 

Sabrina was heavily inspired to be like her instructor, Shantelle Faision, who impacted her life significantly. Shantelle also worked at Santander Bank in the past and continues to provide assistance to Sabrina to this day. “I don’t know how I would have succeeded without Shantelle’s guidance,” said Sabrina.

On graduation day, Sabrina met with local companies hiring for financial services roles. She interviewed with five different banks and got more confident in her abilities after each interview. Although she got several different offers, including a supervisor position, she chose Santander Bank due to feeling a strong connection.

Sabrina began her career at Santander in December 2021 as a full-time teller. In this role, she warmly greeted customers and efficiently managed various day-to-day responsibilities. Due to her exceptional work ethic and outstanding customer service skills, Sabrina was recognized as the top performer at her branch in 2022. Recognizing her talent and dedication, she was promoted to the position of Personal Banker in February 2023. As a Personal Banker, Sabrina now focuses on strengthening client relationships and establishing a strong rapport with them.

Sabrina is thrilled to have a career and be able to provide for her family. “I didn’t grow up in a great neighborhood, and it’s awesome to be in a career where I can always have opportunities to grow. I’m able to send my kids to private school, and it’s so rewarding to be able to support my family,” she said. “Without this program, I have no idea where my life would be and I’m so grateful for all it has given me.” 

Learn more about BankWork$ at Philadelphia OIC.