Partner Spotlight: GuilfordWorks

GuilfordWorks is a public-private organization that helps businesses with various workforce needs, such as locating, screening, selecting, or training workers. In turn, enabling job seekers and employees to gain employment and the skills they need to earn a living wage. Executive Director Dr. Danielle Harrison explains that while the City of Greensboro is technically her employer, the organization offers services throughout Guilford County.

“We offer various services to career seekers and employers,” Harrison said. “Our career centers help connect the workforce with career and educational opportunities, offer career advice and candidate resources, including free resume feedback and makeovers. For employers, we provide talent engagement services, employer training, and incentives for that training. It’s a workforce ecosystem.”

GuilfordWorks recognizes that creating skilled and successful workers starts early. In 2022, the organization launched the NCWorks Emerging Workforce Career Center in downtown Greensboro. “This center is designed for 16- to 24-year-olds,” Harrison said. “We all know that people, especially our younger populations, learn based on experiences. If we expose our young adults to career information and teach them the life skills they need, they will be more successful when they enter the workforce.”

Harrison said COVID-19 impacted these younger workers – due to the isolation, anxieties, and other stresses the pandemic imposed. “We are focused on their social-emotional development and health,” she said.

GuilfordWorks has many community partners, such as Guilford County Schools, Guilford Technical Community College, and the Department of Health and Human Services, to name just a few, to support workers holistically.

“For us to understand the workforce and be impactful, we have to connect the dots,” Harrison said. “Some career seekers may need help with child care, so we can link them with the Department of Social Services to provide vouchers. We can connect them to the United Way of Greater Greensboro’s Family Success Center, which offers job education assistance and child care. We do a lot of barrier elimination work to help people find employment and create their own success.”

GuilfordWorks is a member of Ready Ready’s Continuous Quality Improvement Cohort II. Learn more.

Maximize Love, Manage Stress – Basics Guilford tips from the heart

Ready Ready’s Literacy Coordinator Megan LeFaivre shared science-based tips about the Basic Guilford’s Maximize Love, Manage Stress for Valentine’s Day. She was interviewed on Fox 8 WGHP.

The Basics Guilford are five easy, science-based concepts born at Harvard that any adult can do to boost baby and toddler brain growth. Science shows us that 80 percent of brain growth happens up to age three, so these are critical years. Infants and toddlers thrive when their world seems loving, safe, and predictable. When we as parents or caregivers express love and respond to their needs, children learn they can count on their grownups.

How do we maximize love and manage stress for babies?
· Showing and responding to love helps children learn to manage their feelings and behavior.
· For infants, it’s as simple as holding them. Hold, kiss, and cuddle your infant – there is no worry about spoiling them or holding back on sharing your love.
· Respond to them: Your infant depends on you to meet their needs. Watch and listen for clues about how they feel and what they need, and respond to what you notice. It helps them learn that you care.
· For toddlers – cuddle them! Hugging and cuddling your toddler helps them feel safe and loved – boys need just as much love as girls do.
· Talk about feelings – teaching your toddler to name their feelings can help them understand and express their emotions. You can say things like “It looks like you’re scared because you fell. Falling can be scary! But now you’re OK” Naming the emotions is important. These are just a few of the tips we offer through the Basics Guilford.

We’ve talked about maximizing love – what about managing stress? Why is that important?
· We all face stress. It’s normal. But too much stress is bad for a baby or toddler’s developing brain and has a lifelong impact.
· Some things that cause stress for infants are loud noises, adults who seem angry or upset, or adults who don’t respond to their needs.
· It’s important to have strategies for coping when your life gets stressful – talk to friends, family, or your doctor about ways to deal with stress.
· If you can think about situations that tend to be stressful, you can plan ahead of time for how to improve or avoid them. For example, try to avoid trips to the store right before your child’s nap time.
· Go easy on yourself – life can feel overwhelming, and we all make mistakes. Focus on the big picture and ask for help. All parents need help.

You can learn more about The Basics Guilford including how to receive weekly emails or no-cost twice weekly text messages by clicking on the image below or scanning the QR code with your smartphone.

Staff profile: Jacqueline McCracken

Vice President of Strategic Impact Jacqueline McCracken joined Ready for School, Ready for Life(Ready Ready) in February 2022 and has recently celebrated her first anniversary. In her role, she oversees and manages Ready Ready’s priority areas of data and performance, integrateddata system and the network. The latter is comprised of navigation, prenatal to three strategies, continuous quality improvement and community alignment.

“I collaborate with community stakeholders and leaders to advance building the system of care for young children and families,” McCracken said. “Even before I began working at Ready Ready, I was interested in how this work creates short and long-term impacts for individuals and our community. My family has also personally benefited from the expansion of the evidence-based programs Ready Ready has supported as a backbone organization.”

McCracken said Ready Ready’s role as a backbone organization is underscored by its structure as a startup nonprofit. “Being part of the building phase is an area where I think I can contribute the most,” she said. “Everything is brand new, and nothing like this exists yet. It’s exciting to put processes, protocols, and measures in place, building momentum and energizing people about a vision.”

Jacqueline McCracken and her son walk down a street. We see them from behind.McCracken said the startup energy she enjoys at work reminds her of a giant puzzle and making all the pieces fit. That may be one of the reasons she’s turned to detective stories in her spare time.

“Adding non-work related reading back into my normal routine has been fun. I’ve been working my way through Michael Connolly’s Lincoln Lawyer series,” McCracken said. Additionally, she likes reading to her four-year-old son and being physically active.

“My number one priority is family. I also prioritize my health. I like to lift weights and walk outdoors,” she said. “I typically try to get a walk in every day. Just thirty minutes works wonders for my energy and mental clarity.“