About a third of the funds will support programs in Chicago, including the development of a new center where the agency plans to provide retail-focused training for new workers preparing for a first job and current employees looking to advance their careers. While the agency currently runs a small retail and hospitality sector center in Chicago and offers programs at satellite locations, the new facility will enable it to provide more services to more people, CEO Karin Norington-Reaves told the Tribune. She estimates that the agency has helped Wal-Mart hire three hundred and fifty people.
"Despite the fact that there's this stigma around low-wage jobs, the reality is that one in four American jobs are in the retail industry," said Norington-Reaves. "Our job is to ensure people are going into the retail sector space with a rich understanding of the opportunities that await them, and that there are quicker opportunities to advance within retail than any other sector."