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From The Street: Accenture, Back On My Feet team to teach job skills

Thu, Jun 16, 2011

Back on My Feet, founded by Anne Mahlum in Philadelphia in 2007, is a nonprofit organization that promotes self-sufficiency for those experiencing homeless by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength and self-esteem. In the latest in a series of workshops, seven Back on My Feet (BoMF) members experiencing homelessness partnered with Accenture (NYSE: ACN), a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Volunteers from both organizations worked to help these individuals gain the skills they need to re-enter the workforce.

The effort is part of Accenture’s corporate citizenship initiative, Skills to Succeed, which will equip 250,000 people around the world by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business. During the workshop, the Accenture team coached BoMF members on resume and cover letter writing, filling out an online job application, interview tips and making career decisions. The group also staged mock interviews, complete with performance feedback. Future workshops in the series will address financial literacy and dressing for professional success.

“I was very impressed with the great attitude of the Accenture volunteers,” said John, BoMF member. “Even though my interviewer was half my age, the feedback he provided was very helpful. He pointed out specific changes to be made to my resume. Overall, it was a positive experience.”

“Accenture’s Skills to Succeed initiative combines our people’s passion, experience and commitment to nurturing talent and giving back to the community,” said Patrick Coyne, Accenture senior executive and BoMF advisory board member. “Members of Back on My Feet gain critical life skills, like goal setting, dedication and perseverance. With this effort, we hope to make a significant, lasting impact on the economic well-being of individuals by providing the tools and encouragement they need to open the doors to independence and employment.”

Back on My Feet launched its Chicago chapter in 2010, and partners with three area homeless facilities – Residents for Effective Shelter Transitions Interim Housing (941 West Lawrence), St. Leonard’s Ministries (2100 West Warren) and YMCA Lawson House (30 West Chicago). On May 18 BoMF launched at its fourth facility, the Lake View YMCA (3333 N. Marshfield). Members participate in a comprehensive program that provides connections to job training, employment partnerships and housing opportunities. Those benefits are earned by maintaining 90 percent attendance at runs held three days a week at 5:45 a.m.

“Back on My Feet is committed to providing our members with the tools and resources they need to land their next job and/or take on a new professional challenge,” said Kristina Olkowski, executive director of Back on My Feet Chicago. “With the confidence, strength and self-esteem our members gain through running and the training provided by Accenture, they will be well-prepared for their next opportunity.”

Accenture was the title sponsor of The Accenture Back on My Feet Breakfast in Your Sneakers event, which celebrated the launch of the Chicago chapter. The company also engages employees in BoMF’s Chicagoland Sneaker Day and is actively involved with the six other BoMF chapters across the country.

BoMF Chicago currently has 30 members and more than 65 volunteers. Since the program launched seven months ago, 10 members have obtained employment, 16 have moved into permanent housing and 15 have entered or are preparing to embark on educational or vocational training.

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