Fun & support go hand-in-hand at first Alumni Association Day
    The Philadelphia Housing Authority may be Pennsylvania's largest landlord, but a less well-known component of PHA's mission is its efforts to move low-income residents into the workforce through educational programs. But, as most jobseekers know, just graduating from a program is no guarantee of successfully finding work. 

    Not content to let its graduates flounder in the job market, PHA has created an Alumni Association to support students as they transition from school to work. 

    "We can't let them lose the moment," insists PHA Executive Director Carl Greene. "Lots of times, these students finish the programs and the support systems aren't there, so they don't follow through. 

    "If they have childcare issues, for example, they may just fall by the wayside. We're building an alliance to help people move on to careers." 

    The goal of the Alumni Association is to offer professional networking, social assistance and financial support. So far, 160 members have signed up. Membership is not restricted to program graduates either, according to George Johnson, Jr. the Pre-Apprenticeship Training Coordinator. 

    "We have an open membership. We hope that PHA employees and other supporters will join. Everyone can be involved in the process. We're creating our own economical support system here." 

    The graduates themselves come from many different training programs. 

    PHA's Pre-Apprenticeship Program, for example, qualifies housing residents to compete for high quality union jobs. Over 400 students have completed the program, and PHA has sponsored and placed approximately 220 graduates into the building trades. 

    Under the Community Partners program, PHA provides employment and training opportunities in a wide range of industries, including medical billing, hospitality, pharmacy technician and certified nursing assistants. 

    Last year, 1,342 PHA residents enrolled in Community Partner programs. Of this group, 661 graduated from their respective programs and 366 were reported as working at the end of the training cycle. Other graduates have gone on to open their own businesses and become self-supporting, and many of these have come back to hire other graduates of PHA programs. 

    "These programs give students a new identity," says Johnson. "These programs open a lot of doors. And the people we bring in reach back and help others."

PHA Executive Director Carl Greene smiles during a light moment as Tenant Support Services, Inc., Director Asia Coney addresses graduates.

Graduates of PHA's training programs gathered at the first Annual Alumni Association Day on Saturday, October 28th at PHA's Workforce Development Center. PHA Executive Director Carl Greene (second row, 5th from left) says graduates have formed an association to help newer grads move on to careers and even start their own businesses.

PHA Executive Director Carl Greene says the new alumni association will play a crucial role, helping residents who graduate from job training programs to pursue careers in their chosen fields.