Dear Opportunity Junction Community,
Thank you for your support in all forms during this past year. Your partnership means even more during this period of crisis. Between the day when our fiscal year started on July 1, 2019 and the day when it closed on June 30, 2020, the world shifted radically from under our feet.
The bottom line, if you'd like it up front, is that our entire organization has been nimble and determined to provide continuity for the motivated job seekers we serve. Employer partners are successfully recruiting our graduates. Volunteer trainers and mock interviewers have learned to use Zoom. Every program except onsite public computer access has pivoted to online delivery. Even the 2020 Imagine Gala pivoted to a virtual format that has become a model for many of our community partners, thanks to your support.
We feel for the suffering of the community we serve, though. We have surveyed our current job seekers and recent alumni twice to get a better sense of the impact of the pandemic on their lives. Too many have lost jobs or work hours (or have household members who have). We were fortunate to receive COVID-19 relief grants that allowed us to distribute direct financial assistance to those in greatest need. And we have been providing support for workers navigating the Unemployment Insurance system. The COVID-19 relief grants also helped us purchase the laptops and Chromebooks needed for online learning.
Indeed, technology has taken on increased importance during the pandemic for us, too. Our file servers, database, and communications were already in The Cloud before the year began. During the year, before the pandemic, we converted to QuickBooks Online, too. Through grant funding, we had student laptops ready to go when we moved training to Zoom. And once confined to our homes, we developed an online program application to make it easier for job seekers to navigate our systems. Having a modern technology infrastructure is so important to the critically-important work of nonprofits.
Employers have continued to reach out to us during shelter-in-place, though the pace has slowed from pre-pandemic levels. Still, during the crisis, our employer partners have hired both administrative professionals (from the ACT) and home health aides (from among the certified nursing assistant trainees enrolled in our Healthcare Career Pathway). Altogether for year, we served 1,092 unique residents in all of our programs, include 429 new job seekers and alumni, and we made 144 placements (initial and alumni) for the year.
The average wage of those 144 placements was $17.19 per hour, with ACT placements averaging $18.08, Healthcare Career Pathway placements averaging $16.56, and Career Counseling and Placement Assistance placements averaging $16.63. Now, as part of our racial justice initiatives, our staffers have dashboards that disaggregate those outcomes by race and ethnicity, too, so that we can identify areas where we can improve equity. Also disaggregated are the percentage of applicants accepted and participants completing the program. A full list of OJ's commitments to embed racial justice in our work is here.
The developer of those racial equity dashboards, Data Analyst Nolan Yee, also built a new online application on our website that paved the way for online job seeker recruitment. We enrolled Class 62 of the ACT entirely online and on schedule. Recruitment benefited from our social media and website improvements and information sessions conducted over Zoom. And although interviews and income documentation were more onerous online, our staff members gamely learned new platforms (like DocuSign) and successfully enrolled a full class of 19 trainees.
As proud as I am of the staff members who made that happen, I'm even prouder of the long-term impact of their work. This year, an Impact Audit of the ACT's long-term return-on-investment landed us on the Impact Matters list of Top 10 Poverty-Fighting Nonprofits. With us on that list were eight organizations that operate internationally at vastly greater scale. Although we are in a time of great uncertainty, our Board of Directors' Strategic Initiatives Committee is discussing possible avenues of expansion.
Meanwhile, our Board elected several new members who bring fresh energy, skills, and experience to the organization: Renee Reid, Senior UX Design Researcher for LinkedIn, Cat Watters, Attorney at Law, Ken Leung, Technology Manager at Tipping Point Community, Tom Ramirez, President of Tom C. Ramirez Construction Co., Justin Santiago, VP and Senior Business Banking Relationship Manager at Bank of the West, Osbaldo Garcia, VP and Branch Manager at Mechanics Bank, and Marc Gallo, a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. You can get to know them a little better on our website's People page.
We are also delighted to introduce you to our new staff members this year, including three alumni of our Administrative Careers Training (ACT) program. Maro'jene Alexander, our former career center coordinator, re-joined us as a career counselor on the Antioch Career Counseling and Placement Assistance (CCPA) team, while Alana Chisholm, our senior session leader on the Do-It-Yourself Tax Assistance team, joined us as the ACT Computer Skills Instructor. New to staff was ACT alumna Nadya Poveda, who took over as the Technology Center Coordinator.
Our team was also strengthened by a handful of new staff members who didn't graduate from our ACT program. In addition to Nolan Yee, mentioned above, we welcomed Erica Satchwell, Professional Development Instructor for the Healthcare Career Pathway, Andrea Dannenberg, Grant Writer, Ja'Nae Craig, Executive Assistant, Lucia Quecon, English as a Second Language Instructor, and Hilarie O'Connor, Alumni Program Manager. You can learn a little more about them, too, on our website's People page.
I am grateful to our entire team, and to you, for your part in this work. As we prepare for a surge in demand, we appreciate that you are standing with us to meet the need.
Alissa Friedman, President and CEO