As She Grows Her Career at Bank of America, Graduate Jennifer Berg Sees BankWork$ As “Giving People Hope and Opportunity”

Jennifer Berg

When Jennifer Berg first learned about the BankWork$ program with our partners in the Los Angeles area, JVS SoCal, it was at the right time in her personal and career journey. After several years working in retail, Jennifer, a Bay Area native, was looking for a new chapter.

At that time, Jennifer had never thought about a career in financial services. But after reading about our program, she was curious, and after attending an open house information session with JVS SoCal in early 2019, she enrolled in an upcoming class.

During our free, eight-week comprehensive career readiness program, Jennifer commuted 60 miles each day to attend class. But for her, it was worth it.

Jennifer praises Julian Hampton, Associate Director of JVS SoCal and BankWork$ Instructor, for the “phenomenal job” he did conveying the industry-specific portions of the eight-week curriculum. “I really liked the reading material and assignments. The curriculum gave me a real sense of what it would be like to have a career in banking.”

But for her, the “biggest gift” from Julian and the program were the communications and workplace skills the program emphasizes, which can help people grow in any career.

This program “gave us the gift of knowing how to do an interview and to do it properly. Julian coached us, and he helped us be confident. He challenged us to think outside the box and to be better than we were when we started. That is just key for life, no matter what industry you wind up in.”

“Eight weeks later,” Jennifer continues, “there we are, sitting in front of people who wanted to hire us.”

Like graduates of any CareerWork$ career readiness programs, Jennifer attended a hiring fair with our employer partners in her area with roles to fill immediately following her graduation ceremony. She received several offers, and within a month after graduating from BankWork$ she accepted a role with Bank of America as a Client Services Representative. In 2021, Jennifer was promoted to Relationship Banker.

As she continues to thrive and advance in her career in banking, Jennifer says she values the opportunity to help people improve their financial lives.

“BankWork$ is unique in that it gives people hope to turn their lives around and gives them an opportunity. It enriches people’s lives. I never would have considered this career path. But BankWork$ gave me a chance, and then the bank gave me a chance.”

Want to learn more about the BankWork$ with our partners JVS SoCal? Click here.


CareerWork$® Welcomes Austin Aga As Its Communication and Development Specialist to Bring New Ideas and Communication Tactics to Rapidly Growing Markets.

Today, CareerWork$ announced that Austin Aga has joined the team as its first-ever Communications and Development Specialist to help support its mission to provide free career training programs across the country. Austin plans to bring new ideas and communication tactics to the rapidly growing CareerWork$ markets.

“I want to help bring the inspiring success stories of CareerWork$ graduates to life.”

Austin will be providing key support and insights by communicating directly with training partners, participants, and other team members. He will be generating content to reach the various audiences in markets where CareerWork$ operates, as well as monitoring media coverage to ensure all content stays in line with the correct strategy for their respective markets.

An Oklahoma native, Austin previously worked at the non-profit organization, Infant Crisis Services as a graphic designer. He went on to focus on communication and ran social media content for several companies throughout Oklahoma. He also attended the University of Oklahoma earning a BA in Advertising. 

As a naturally curious person, Austin is always learning about new technologies and industry landscape changes to be proactive for future opportunities. He has a deep understanding of social media content creation and distribution and will ensure all CareerWork$ social media is consistent and engaging. 

In March 2022, CareerWork$ updated its website to increase ease of understanding of its main programs, BankWork$®, CareerWork$ Medical®, and CareerWork$Ready®. Austin will also update the website and ensure its consistency with social media content.

With a heart for non-profit work. Austin hopes to showcase CareerWork$ as a place of acceptance and encouragement. “This role gives me the opportunity to help set talented people up for successful careers, and I get to work with a great team who all have a shared passion for seeing others thrive, and that’s really exciting.”

Outside of work, Austin enjoys watching movies and playing drums. He is looking forward to exploring Seattle and finding the best hiking spots in Washington. He plans on continuing to travel by visiting the various cities CareerWork$ operates to understand the local cultures.


For BankWork$® Career Navigator Matthew Samaniego, The Priority Is Ensuring Students “Have Everything They Need to Succeed”

Every graduate of any CareerWork$ program knows that what sets us apart isn’t just our industry-specific career training—it’s individual support, and direct connections to local employers looking to hire. While our Instructors bring industry experience and are responsible for leading participants through our eight-week curricula, the person responsible for helping program participants connect directly with employers is each class’s Career Navigator—part of the special sauce that makes CareerWork$ programs have such success with launching their new careers. 

Matthew Samaniego never expected that his own career path would lead to workforce development and career training. But today, Matthew Samaniego speaks passionately about his work as a Career Navigator with our Bay Area partner Fremont Adult & Continuing Education. 

For Matthew, being a Career Navigator means “working with our students one-on-one to make sure they have everything they need to succeed. We are already giving them a great curriculum with our Instructors, so my role is to meet with them individually throughout the program, and to provide that post-class support and ongoing coaching, and help connect them with employers with roles to fill.”  

As he works with participants in the BankWork$ program – as well as those considering it – Matthew emphasizes that “you’re not just getting into a job, but a career. It’s something you can do your whole life, with opportunities to advance at every step.” 

A Bay Area native, Matthew worked in customer service, logistics, and retail before joining our Bay Area partner Fremont Adult & Continuing Education in an administrative role, which he held for nearly two years. When the opportunity opened up to be a Career Navigator with the BankWork$ program, Matthew says he “jumped at the chance.” He was already familiar with BankWork$ and had seen its impact on its students firsthand. 

 Working directly with BankWork$ participants, Matthews says he cherishes the chance to “connect talented people with a real career opportunity that can transform their lives. Seeing our students really blossom into themselves and become these confident people by the end of the course is so impressive and inspiring.” 

Matthew also values building relationships with students during and after the program – and seeing them build relationships with one another. “Each class becomes a bit of a family,” Matthews says, with cohorts staying in touch via WhatsApp to send holiday greetings and celebrate each other’s new roles and promotions in their new careers.  

The COVID-19 pandemic made Matthew’s work more challenging over the past two years—a challenge experienced by all of our Instructors and Career Navigators across the country. But, like all instruction staff, Matthew and his colleagues at FACE adapted, working with CareerWork$® to launch virtual, and then hybrid, BankWork$ classes, along with virtual graduation celebrations and career fairs with employers.  

Today, Matthew loves being back in person with FACE’s BankWork$ students. But he also notes that the challenges posed by the pandemic and virtual instruction “taught us a lot, too. We can include technology skills like remote meeting and incorporate that into our curriculum. We’ve come through it stronger than ever before.”  

“You realize how much it starts to mean to you as well. I keep calling my role a job, but for me, it’s a career and a calling. I look forward to many more years working with CareerWork$.”  

Thank you, Matthew, and all the Career Navigators and Instructors who make our programs around the country so impactful!  To learn more about upcoming BankWork$ classes with Fremont Adult and Continuing Education, click here


CareerWork$ Medical Seattle to Begin in April 

Handshake Training

CareerWork$, a workforce development nonprofit, is excited to expand our partnership with Career Path Services to operate our CareerWork$ Medical® program in Seattle, opening doors to lasting careers through our free, eight-week career training program. Classes begin April 18, 2022, in the Northgate neighborhood of Seattle.  

CareerWork$ Medical offers participants the necessary skills for any entry-level non-clinical healthcare position with career potential, including appointment schedulers, patient service representatives, patient navigator, medical receptionist, and more. After eight weeks of intensive training, participants attend a combined graduation ceremony and hiring fair to interview for open positions with local employer partners. Graduates also receive ongoing coaching and job placement support.  

CareerWork$ Medical is currently offered in three cities across the United States, with more expected to open in 2022. CareerWork$ Medical was last offered in Seattle in early 2020 before pausing during the pandemic; this relaunch is an exciting opportunity to connect participants eager to start careers with the increased opportunities in healthcare, and connect employers with open roles with talent.  

The class in Seattle runs through early June, with two additional cohorts offered later this year. Classes are three days per week, and this will be a hybrid course, helping students gain experience with digital remote tools. Eligible applicants must be 18 years old or older, have a high school diploma or GED, have English literacy, and six months customer service experience.  Thanks to support from The Sheri & Les Biller Family Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Urban Research Park, and others, this program is free for all participants.  

Since 2018, CareerWork$ and Career Path Services have partnered to offer BankWork$, a CareerWork$ program advancing careers in banking and financial services, in the South Puget Sound area.  

“We are delighted to expand our partnership with CareerWork$ to Seattle and CareerWork$ Medical, and together bring non-clinical healthcare training to Seattle,” said Cami Eakins, Chief Executive Officer of Career Path Services. “Our shared commitment to empowering people, enhancing the workforce, and enriching communities is a strong foundation for this work.”  

“Working with Career Path Services to relaunch CareerWork$ Medical in Seattle is a natural fit,” said Ranko Fukuda, CareerWork$ Director of Programs. “We are so appreciative of their partnership in South Puget Sound on our BankWork$ program, and are thrilled to bring that partnership to Seattle.  We know there is huge demand for talented, trained individuals looking to launch careers in non-clinical healthcare settings, particularly in this region, and this is really the perfect time to bring our program back—we are hitting the ground running!” 

CareerWork$ is a workforce development nonprofit with the mission of connecting young adults from under-resourced communities to stable, lasting careers through free training, and building partnerships advancing equitable economic stability.   

Are you an employer interested in supporting the CareerWork$ Medical$ program and recruiting great talent to help serve the diverse healthcare needs of your communities? Contact us at  


CareerWork$® Announces Latoya Edmond As Regional Director to Help Expand Programs and Impact Across U.S. Markets

CareerWork$® announced today that Latoya Edmond has joined its growing team as Regional Director to help expand career training programs and deepen impact in markets across the United States.

CareerWork$ connects young adults from under-resourced communities to lasting, stable careers through free training, and builds supportive partnerships advancing equitable economic stability. CareerWork$ operates two eight-week, industry-specific free career training programs in financial services and non-clinical health care through its BankWork$® and CareerWork$ Medical® , and CareerWork$ Ready programs. The CareerWork$ model teaches industry-specific skills for immediate on-the-job success and the communication and people skills needed to succeed as a professional anywhere, and then provides direct access to employers who are hiring.

CareerWork$ partners with local workforce development and social services organizations to support recruiting, coaching, local fundraising, and employer connections in the communities in which they are based. CareerWork$ provides financial support, proprietary industry-specific curricula, a robust online learning platform, instruction staff training, and ongoing operational program support while engaging employers at every step of the process.

“I’m both honored and excited to join the CareerWork$ team to support under-served communities on a larger scale,” said Latoya. “I believe in the CareerWork$ mission and program model, and I know from first-hand experience the model is effective and impactful. I look forward to expanding the CareerWork$ footprint across the U.S. to increase economic opportunities for those we serve.”

“Latoya joins our team at a pivotal time of expansion for CareerWork$. She brings extensive experience leading workforce development efforts and was a wonderful collaborator and visible leader as our Training Partner at Philadelphia OIC. I am excited to have her on our team so we can lean on her expertise and continue to grow our impact around the country,” said Ranko Fukuda, Director of Programs at CareerWork$.

Latoya joins CareerWork$ as it continues to expands its presence and impact across the country. Today, it operates 16 training programs in 13 markets across the country, and has helped launch more than 4,000 careers nationwide.

A proud Philadelphia native, Latoya brings over 15 years of experience in workforce development. Prior to joining CareerWork$, Latoya served as the Vice President of Workforce Development & Economic Innovation for Philadelphia OIC, a training partner of CareerWork$ BankWork$ program, where she managed over $2.5 million annually in public/private agency grant and contractual funds while overseeing the organization’s workforce development initiatives and partnerships, including the BankWork$ program. She was also responsible for cultivating relationships with donors and employers which allowed her to generate over $3 million in additional funding to support the organizations programs and mission.

In 2021, Latoya was named one of the Philadelphia Business Journal Women of Distinction. She has also been selected as a finalist in the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovations Awards for her work in building innovative partnerships with a cross-sector approach to solving complex social and environmental issues on a large scale.

Latoya also serves as an Advisory Committee Member for the Pennsylvania Bankers Association Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Group, Advisory Board Member for the City of Philadelphia’s Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine, Executive Team member of the Workforce Professionals Alliance, Member of PNC’s Community Development Banking Philadelphia Advisory Council, and is a 2020 Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange alum.

Latoya holds a master’s degree in Management & Leadership and Public Administration from East Stroudsburg University and Certificate in Non-profit Administration from Temple University.


CareerWork$® Selected As Talent Developer by OneTen, Coalition of Industry Leaders with Mission to Hire, Promote, and Advance One Million Black Individuals into Family-Sustaining Careers

CareerWork$® announced that it has been selected as a Talent Developer by OneTen, a powerful coalition of industry leaders with the mission of hiring, promoting, and advancing one million Black individuals without four-year degrees into family-sustaining careers over the next 10 years.  

As a Talent Developer, CareerWork$ joins this effort in supporting Black individuals launching careers through our programs, and join a vibrant community of practice focused on scaling.  

“This partnership amplifies many aspects of our model: supporting the professional growth of participants, collaborating with partners to provide participant wrap-around services, engaging employer partners, making data-driven decisions, and serving Black Americans,” said Ranko Fukuda, CareerWork$ Director of Programs. “We are honored to be part of this effort as we collectively advance toward improving racial and economic justice in our country.” 

“We look forward to having CareerWork$ join us as an endorsed talent developer to support us in our mission to hire and advance one million Black talent in the next ten years,” said Maurice Jones, Chief Executive Officer of OneTen. “This effort will require a high functioning, multi-disciplinary coalition from corporate America, talent developers, Black talent, talent supports, and others, and it is crucial we have high quality partners like CareerWork$ on that team. We are grateful for the work they have already done and are excited to partner with them going forward.” 

CareerWork$ builds a collaborative and cross-sectoral approach to launching new careers: we bring local employers and workforce development training organizations together with young adults lacking access to lasting careers via our free, eight-week, industry-specific career training programs around the country. We facilitate direct connections between job seekers who want lasting careers, and local employers with open roles. By engaging employers from the beginning of the process, these employers know our graduates are ready to get to work—and job seekers know they aren’t just starting jobs, but are launching lasting, stabilizing careers.  

Eighty-two percent of CareerWork$ and BankWork$ program graduates are BIPOC, more than fifty percent are bilingual or multilingual, and participants earn an average of more than $1,000,000 in increased lifetime earnings, compared to if they had not completed the program. Click here to learn more about CareerWork$ impact in communities across the country. 


CareerWork$® Announces Deepa Suresh as the Latest Recipient of the Marc Hill Rising Star Award



CareerWork$ is delighted to select Deepa Suresh, an August 2021 graduate of the BankWork$® program with our training partner YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, as the third recipient of the CareerWork$ Marc Hill Rising Star Award. Deepa began her new career in financial services in Fall 2021 with Salal Credit Union in Washington State. 

Launched in Spring 2021, 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 cash award to enhance the start of their new career. 

The award is part of CareerWork$ ongoing work to open doors to meaningful careers – and honors the life, work, and legacy of the late Marc Hill, an instructor of both the BankWork$ and CareerWork$® Ready programs with CareerWork$ partner, YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, who passed away in late 2020. Marc began teaching our BankWork$ courses in 2011, and then began teaching CareerWork$ Ready in 2020 as part of our response to the COVID-19 crisis. The lessons Marc shared with his students embody our values as an organization: Respect, collaboration, equity, and inclusion. 

CareerWork$ and YWCA staff, along with Deepa’s colleagues at Salal Credit Union, had the opportunity to surprise her with the news that she had been selected as the newest recipient selected from a pool of candidates across the country. 

“I am so grateful to receive this recognition, and to each and every person on the CareerWork$ and YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish teams. It feels good to be appreciated for who I am as I start my new career. Thank you for this honor,” said Deepa. 

“Our team is so incredibly proud of Deepa’s accomplishments and we’re honored to have her represent our program as she blazes a trail of success within the financial industry! We saw Deepa’s metamorphosis as she became a leader and force of light and positivity. While juggling two jobs and caring for her children, Deepa was able to make the BankWork$ program a priority by successfully making it to every class and completing all of her assignments. She challenged herself out of her comfort zone by volunteering to read and participate in class activities. She generously offered encouragement to her fellow classmates, and brought her laughter and insight to each class.  It came as no surprise that Deepa received multiple offers after graduation,” said Tracy Hinman, BankWork$ Instructor with YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. 

“We are thrilled to honor Deepa and to celebrate her perseverance, passion, and her growing career,” said CareerWork$ Director of Programs, Ranko Fukuda. “We know that Marc would be proud that his legacy has brought so many people together to celebrate Deepa’s success, and that his work continues to have impact as people move forward in their careers. We are excited to see all that Deepa does and to have her as part of the CareerWork$ family.” 

From all of us at CareerWork$, congratulations, Deepa!  


As CareerWork$ Continues to Grow Its Impact, We’re Seeking Our First-Ever Communications & Development Specialist

As CareerWork$® continues to grow its impact across the country, we’re seeking our first-ever Communications & Development Specialist to join our team.

CareerWork$ connects young adults from under-resourced communities to lasting, stable careers through free training, and builds supportive partnerships advancing equitable economic stability. We currently offer two free, eight-week industry-specific training programs, BankWork$® and CareerWork$ Medical®, and a free three-week industry agnostic job readiness program, CareerWork$ Ready. We partner with workforce development and social service nonprofits to operate our programs in 13 markets around the country, with plans to grow. CareerWork$ has helped launch over 4,000 meaningful careers, with an additional 1,000 anticipated next year. CareerWork$ is a small and growing team and highly values collaboration, innovation, and bringing a “how can we deepen our impact?” mindset to advancing our mission.

Click here to learn more about this opportunity with CareerWork$ and how to apply:


Graduate Spotlight: For Jonathon Frank, BankWork$® Helped Create A “Pathway” and “Seamless Transition” to A Growing Career


Jonathon Frank’s career path has spanned a collegiate basketball court, some of New York City’s most iconic buildings, a serious, life-altering injury, and – more recently – the BankWork$® career development program, and a growing career in financial services. 

A New York native, after completing his undergraduate degree in business management at Long Island University while also starring as small forward on its basketball team, Jonathon embarked on what would become a 15-year career in New York City’s construction industry. During that time, Jonathon helped construct 10 high-rise buildings that now dot the city’s skyline – including the Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan. 

But in 2014, Jonathon suffered a major neck injury at his construction job. He was left temporarily paralyzed. Once one of the fastest players on the basketball court, Jonathon now had to learn how to walk again.  

He began a new chapter in his life and career with a cross-country move to Los Angeles, where he explored a career in real estate but found it wasn’t a good fit. A professional contact introduced Jonathon to Julian Hampton, Associate Director of JVS SoCal, our partner in the Los Angeles area.  

Initially, Jonathon remembers, after speaking with Julian he remained “pretty skeptical” about pursuing a career in financial services. For him, it was a “completely different world.” But Jonathon wanted the kind of stability BankWork$ offered, so he gave it a try. That skepticism soon waned. 

While he had extensive customer service experience from the real estate industry, Jonathon says he needed to “learn the language” and industry-specific skills that BankWork$ provides. “As I went through the program, I realized I had a knack for this. By the second week, I was like, ‘I think I can do this.’” He also credits Julian’s steadfast encouragement as he completed the program in Fall 2021. 

Like all BankWork$ graduates, after a celebration ceremony Jonathon participated in a career fair and interviewed with employer partners in the region. Jonathon admits he was nervous going into the interviews – “I hadn’t done a job interview in 15 years!” – but says the program’s mock interview practices were important preparation. After receiving multiple offers for jobs with career growth potential, Jonathon accepted a role as a Relationship Associate with City National Bank, where he started in March 2021. 

For Jonathon, his career in financial services has been a “seamless transition” from BankWork$ and “beyond expectations,” as he built relationships with his clients and “experiences who they are.”  

BankWork$ is a wonderful opportunity. It creates a pathway. You can’t get that kind of knowledge and experience anywhere else,” says Jonathon. “It set me up perfectly to walk into this industry with my feet planted firmly and with a lot of confidence. But you have to be committed.”  

Like so many BankWork$ graduates, Jonathon has also begun wearing another hat: an advocate and evangelist for the program, as he’s already recruited two friends to BankWork$. 

Want to learn more about the BankWork$ with our partners JVS SoCal? Click here.  


Graduate Spotlight | Iraq Native and BankWork$ Graduate Saif Al-Sammarraie’s Advice to Prospective BankWork$ Students: “Enroll and Change Your Life”

Saif Al-Sammarraie ‘s journey to his new career in financial services in the United States began nearly 7,000 miles away in his native Iraq.

That’s where Saif completed his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, and then began his career working as an instructor in the computer center at the University of Baghdad.

In the face of civil war, in 2006 Saif moved with his wife and parents to Syria, where they lived until 2010. During much of that time, Saif worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as an informational technology expert.

In 2010, Saif and his family had the opportunity to immigrate to the United States, but it wasn’t until a week before their flight that Saif and his family—non-English speakers—learned they’d be going to Washington State. After settling in the Puget Sound area, Saif showed a tireless persistence to seize opportunities for him and his family: he not only enrolled in ESL classes, he also found a job working as a cashier at Target. Then, he enrolled in a local community college, and then transferred to a four-year university, where he earned his degree in Accounting and Finance.

After exploring careers in accounting, Saif soon got wind of another opportunity: the BankWork$ program with our Seattle-area partners, YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish.

Then-YWCA BankWork$ Career Navigator Dion Willis – now a Program Manager with CareerWork$ – was one of the first people Saif talked to when he was exploring BankWork$. Part of the Career Navigator role is to help potential students determine whether it’s a fit for their goals; once Dion shared the focus on both the soft skills needed to thrive in a career and the industry-specific curriculum, Saif knew BankWork$ was the right next step on his career path.

Saif’s BankWork$ program began in January 2020. “The program was totally amazing. I learned a lot of new things. I learned about work culture and employers’ expectations for their employees, and what is the right behavior and how important commitment is, even if you have the knowledge of the financial services industry and the technical skills.”

Following his graduation, Saif began interviewing with employers across the region. Like so many people around the country, the ongoing pandemic proved challenging for Saif’s search. But last fall, Saif started his career in financial services as Member Services Associate in the Seattle region with our employer partner Gesa Credit Union. And in June 2021, less than a year after he joined the credit union, Saif was promoted from Member Services Associate to Personal Financial Representative.

“I showed them that I am committed and knowledgeable,” says Saif. “They liked what I had learned from BankWork$.”

“Saif is the epitome of determination and professionalism.  He never stopped looking for that right position for him.  He is an example of why it’s so rewarding to be a Career Navigator,” said Dion Willis. “I’m honored to have worked with Saif and look forward to watching him maximize his potential!”

“Saif was a model student, showing up to every class with an eagerness to learn, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to support and encourage his fellow classmates,” says Tracy Hinman, BankWork$ Instructor with YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. “We were honored to have him share his inspirational story as the Alumni Speaker at our recent graduation. It is hard for me to put into words how extremely proud we are of Saif. He never gave up on his goal, even when the challenges he faced seemed unsurmountable.”

Today, Saif’s advice to anyone considering the BankWork$ program is to “enroll and change your life. BankWork$ doesn’t only teach you about banking. It teaches you how to adapt and thrive in the workplace and be the kind of employee your employer needs.”

“I know I’m on the right path to build a future for myself and for my kids. I’m grateful for the opportunity I got to come to the United States, to get an education, and then enroll in BankWork$ and, now, work as a banker,” says Saif. “It helps me make sure my kids are on the right path and they can get an education and succeed here.”