Delaware gets $18.8 million for jobs program

 Rev. Terrence Keeling discusses the Delaware WONDER program at his church, Central Baptist in Wilmington. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Rev. Terrence Keeling discusses the Delaware WONDER program at his church, Central Baptist in Wilmington. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

The money will provide job training for some of the 150,000 SNAP recipients in the First State.

Over the next three years, Delaware will receive the $18.8 million USDA grant. The money will fund a program to improve not only job skills, but also the economic situation for Delawareans who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

The program is called Delaware WONDER and is being led by Tanya Warner, a former SNAP recipient who now works as the SNAP employment and training grant manager for the state. “Anyone receiving SNAP, they will tell you for themselves, they want to provide a safe, nurturing and profitable household for themselves and their families,” Warner said.

About 20 percent of the state’s 150,000 SNAP recipients will be eligible for the job training, which will be offered in four tracks: construction, culinary arts, manufacturing and a broad-based program.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell said the state will work with a number of partners to implement the training program. “The only way, in the end, that we’ll be successful is if we figure out a way to check our egos at the door and focus on making sure that we deliver the services and deliver the training to people so that they can go out and get the jobs that they so much want to get,” Markell said.

The construction training component will coordinate with the Eastside Rising effort in Wilmington. Trainees will help rehab about 140 to 150 homes in East Wilmington. About 400 positions will be available in the construction component over the next three years, or about 11 every month.

The culinary arts track will team trainees with the Food Bank of Delaware. Up to 90 individuals every year will join the Food Bank’s 39 week training program that offers 14 weeks in the kitchen and 25 weeks of employment support services.

Creating manufacturing jobs has been a long time goal for state leaders, and this program addresses that desire as well. Each year of the three year program, as many as 90 people who complete a 90-day training program at Delaware Technical Community College will be offered jobs at Kraft Foods manufacturing plant in Dover.

The final track will be for workers who may not fit into the construction, culinary, or manufacturing fields. This broad-based job placement effort will be overseen by the Delaware Department of Labor.

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