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Community leaders announce formation of Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation

by Community First Fund

Community leaders announce formation of Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation

(Reading, PA): A group of Berks County community leaders has announced a newly created non-profit organization called the Berks Latino Workforce Development Corporation (BLWDC). The mission of the BLWDC is to move Latinos out of poverty by providing self-awareness, education, and workforce development training, and empowering them to create greater economic wealth.

The BLWDC will serve as a platform to foster cooperation and investment between the community, business, government, education, and philanthropy sectors. The purpose is to resolve the Latino workforce development gap for marginalized individuals.

“This organization will facilitate community improvement, provide culturally appropriate training and increase employment opportunities for economically and socially disadvantaged members of our community,” says Board Chair Jonathan Encarnacion.

The BLWDC plans to develop a bilingual technology center that will serve as the vehicle to provide training and increase employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged in the Latino community. The training center’s curriculum will include language development courses to advance English Language proficiency, adult education that allows students to achieve their high school equivalency certificate, job readiness training to facilitate entering the workforce, and practical skills training for high demand occupations. It is expected that training programs and other supportive services will be provided in collaboration with other local educational and non-profit organizations.

The Wyomissing Foundation has awarded $450,000 to the new organization, which will be distributed over three years. The funds will be used to conduct a market analysis, hire administrative staff and secure a facility that will serve as the location for the bilingual workforce development center.

“We are pleased to play part in the establishment of this effort”, says Karen Rightmire, president of The Wyomissing Foundation. “Helping our community develop skills that will allow them to increase their wages and be able to support their families is our goal. Providing additional training to workers will help companies fill open positions. And, having individuals and families earning an adequate income will go a long way to creating a vibrant, healthy city and county. The best social service intervention is a good job.”

Santander Bank has also granted $100,000 to support the formation of the BLWDC, providing funds to complete crucial first-year goals necessary to establish the new organization.

“We understand the importance of providing educational and workforce development training to help people in Berks County build better lives for themselves, their families and the community,” said Seth Goodall, Executive Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Santander Bank. “The support and services provided by the BLWDC will address local needs, drive prosperity, and create new opportunities for growth.”

The organization has launched a regional search for an Executive Director and is projected to begin providing services by the second quarter of 2020. Board members for the newly formed BLWDC include:


Jonathan Encarnacion (Board Chair), Administrative Director, UPMC


Nereida Villanueva (Board Vice Chair), HR Director, Berks Community Health Center


Jobany Bedoya (Board Secretary), Coordinator Latino Outreach, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance


Bill Jennings (Board Treasurer), President and CEO, Reading Hospital


Daniel Betancourt, President and CEO, Community First Fund


Dayana Blandon, Human Resource Generalist, Reading Truck Body


Lizette Epps, Director of Impact and Engagement, Visions Credit Union


Angel Figueroa, CEO, I-LEAD Charter School


Carlos Graupera. President, Spanish American Civic Association


Dr. Susan Looney, President, Reading Area Community College


Ramon Melecio, CEO, LinkTech


Pamela Shupp, EVP & COO, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance


John Weidenhammer, President, Weidenhammer Systems Incorporated