Mission: To help women raise their self-esteem and achieve economic independence through sustained employment by advancing positive change in the lives of women, their families and the community, one woman at a time.
Programs: The mission of women's employment network (wen) is to help women raise their self-esteem and achieve economic independence through sustained employment. Wen has provided its employment preparation and career transition training program to kansas city area women for nearly 29 years and has changed thousands of lives. Over the years, wen has added programs and services that enhance the core programming of the organization, and the past year was no exception. While wen's activities have always been centered on helping women find work, there's more to economic wellness than just employment, and in recent years there have been significant strides in programming and operations. Wen's strategic approach to support the overall economic wellness of women in kansas city began in 2009, when wen joined with the women's business center and women's capital connection to form the onekc for women alliance. Each group fills a unique role and today, the onekc for women alliance is where women can find the resources, opportunities and connections needed to advance employment opportunities, start or grow a business and receive guidance in overcoming barriers to success. Additionally, wen's partnership with an onsite microlender also established in 2009, continues to be extremely effective and serves many wen clients with micro and credit building loans. The hiring of a full-time financial coach and introduction of financial coaching and credit building to wen's curriculum in march 2013 was a major development designed to help clients increase their income, credit score, long-term job retention and net worth over time. While aspects of financial education and budgeting have always been a part of the employment preparation and career transition training program curriculum, the addition of specialized staff enables wen to provide measurable, long-term support for women as they overcome financial challenges. Additionally, in november of 2013, wen was designated as a local initiatives support corporation (lisc) financial opportunity center, which connects wen to a nationally-proven model of economic support. The lisc foc model provides services across three areas: employment placement and career improvement; financial education and coaching; and public benefits access. These core services are integrated and provided to clients in a bundled fashion in order to reinforce one another and to provide a comprehensive approach to income and wealth building. Designed to help clients increase their net income, credit scores, long-term job retention and net worth over time, the foc model has complemented and enhanced the career training, financial coaching and microloan programming that wen was already providing its clients. As of december 2014, 292 women have utilized the financial coaching services and have increased their credit scores while decreasing debt collection actions, among other outcomes. The most recent collection of data shows that 23% of clients have increased their credit score by greater than 50 points and debt collection actions on the clients have shown a 14% decrease. During wen's 2013-2014 fiscal year, 431 new clients were served, and 185 women gained new employment with average wages of $12. 57 an hour. In addition, graduation rates from 2011-2014 have experienced a 29% increase -- this statistic is especially meaningful when considering the increase in local employers actively hiring wen graduates. While wen's efforts have always been focused on helping women find work, the organization continues to strengthen its ability to assist women in securing their financial futures. Since its founding in 1986, wen has continued to change with the times, evolving with the economy, hiring and social trends, but the organization is still rooted in the mission and vision of its founders.