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Goodwill Kicks Off Tech-Focused Artemis Initiative

Video courtesy of Goodwill of Missouri and Kansas.

Haley Regan
March 5, 2020

The KC Tech Council attended a kick-off event for Goodwill MOKAN's new Artemis Initiative last month at their new facility in downtown Kansas City. The event highlighted local innovation and ways that it can help grow and cultivate the workforce to stay ahead of the technology curve.


We sat down with the CEO of Goodwill in Missouri and Kansas, Ed Lada, to learn a bit more about what the Artemis Initiative will look like and how it will impact our region.


Q: When was the Artemis Initiative created?

A: We publicly launched the Artemis Initiative at our kickoff event on February 21st. However, we have been having internal team discussions and gauging potential partner interest for over a year now. We knew embracing future state technologies in our business and mission in workforce development was imperative, and that we would need the community to support these efforts.


Q: What is the purpose of the Artemis Initiative?

A: The purpose of the Artemis Initiative is to provide education, training and credentialing for vulnerable job seekers in the 4th Industrial Revolution. We know technology is changing all jobs, and while it will eliminate many kinds of work, it will also create new kinds of work. The Artemis Initiative will help ensure no one is left behind as these changes occur.


Q: Why do you feel this initiative is important?

A: When industrial revolutions and major economic shifts occur, the people most negatively impacted are the same people Goodwill traditionally serves. These are people with barriers to employment, such as people with diverse abilities, no high school diploma or people with a legal history. We must act to ensure they don't become unemployed, and they don't become unemployable. We cannot afford to see any individuals, families, or communities left behind because there was no proactive effort to train them for the 4th industrial revolution.


Q: What sort of jobs will the Artemis Initiative prepare workers for?

A: The educational and credentialing goal of the Artemis Initiative will train people for all kinds of jobs, from robot technicians to training artificial intelligence algorithms, and eventually other advance tech blue-collar and white-collar jobs in cybersecurity, Internet of Things, Virtual/Augmented Reality and 3D printing. Our goal is to create the new jobs necessary to sustain and thrive in the 4th industrial revolution.


Q: Will this same idea apply to Goodwill branches all over the US or just in Missouri and Kansas?

A: Each goodwill organization is operated autonomously and independently. We have been actively talking about our vision among the Goodwill network, and nationally we've seen artificial intelligence and workforce development for the future become a Goodwill strategic pillar. Our hope is that other Goodwills across the country will join us, but it will start here in Kansas City, and adapt to the specific needs of Goodwills far and wide. There is a Goodwill within 10 miles of 82% of all Americans, so our potential reach and impact with this initiative could be transformational for communities all across America.


Q: How do you plan to put this initiative into action?

A: We plan to first create a coalition of the willing. We are already actively building funding and employer partners to lay the foundation for our goals. Soon, we'll begin internally developing and training and credentialing paths related to this field. Simultaneously, we'll be working with our local, state, and federal elected officials to advocate for policies and appropriations that will move this project forward, and other programs that will inevitably follow, to allow vulnerable populations to not only be protected but to be allowed the opportunity to thrive with sustainable training opportunities.


Q: How can the tech community contribute to this effort?

There are three things that come immediately to mind to get involved. First, amplify our message by talking about it in the community and sharing our videos and website on social media. Second, give us advice: share your technology and industry expertise. You are in this field. Provide us with information on the jobs and job skills you need and how to train people for them. Third, make a contribution. We will need resources to keep advancing this initiative, and a generous financial gift will go a long way. This community can help us create a level playing field for everyone by being intentional about these technologies existing to augment the human experience, not replace the human. It can become rocket fuel for truly integrated workforce opportunities while creating a new pipeline for talent for the tech community in KC, and eventually, America.



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