Since 1979, Hard Hatted Women (HHW) has engaged industry and community leaders to match women who need lifelong careers with employers who need a qualified, skilled workforce. Pioneering programs like Pre-Apprenticeship Training for Women, Rosie’s Girls, Tradeswomen TOOLS and WISE Pathways have inspired and provided skills to hundreds of women and girls in our community, and put many families on the path to economic security.
Financially and operationally, 2012 was a very difficult year for Hard Hatted Women. Those challenges forced HHW to close its offices and lay off staff in September, 2012, to re-organize itself as an all-volunteer organization.
Yet despite the external challenges, we had AMAZING AND DEDICATED staff, volunteers and community partners who stuck with us and KEPT ON PERFORMING. In 2012, HHW completed important work on its Earmark grant with the Department of Labor. 23 girls enjoyed an amazing transformative experience through the Rosie Girls Camp.
In the interests of full disclosure—as well as a point of pride– we are attaching activity reports on both programs, as well as summary reports on how funds were spent on each program.
Growing numbers of employers and civic leaders recognize women as an untapped talent pool, especially in industries that rely on a STEM*-ready workforce (*science, technology, engineering and math). As our nation enters a time of critical workforce shortages in skilled occupations, we have an opportunity to re-invent HHW and drive scalable, sustainable solutions to this market demand. We want to take what works to scale, supported by sound research and an entrepreneurial mindset.
In the coming months, we will host a series of dialogue/think-tank sessions with our supporters and other civic and community leaders, facilitated by regional and national experts.
1) Establish the case for investing in women and girls as a central part of a sound regional economic development policy;
2) Develop a social enterprise that uses the tools and strategies of the private sector to advance scalable, sustainable solutions to this national challenge.
Please, let us know how you would like to be involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like many nonprofits, HHW was hugely impacted by the financial collapse of 2008. Since that time, HHW programs were re-invented to help it survive and evolve. This work was supported by our dedicated volunteers and donors, donations via Community Shares and the United Way, as well as other foundation and federal program grants. The Business of Good Foundation provided coaching to HHW leadership and helped us complete a new business plan. A grant from the US Department of Labor supported a demonstration project to partner with community colleges. Remarkable partnerships with national groups including the Center for Energy Workforce Development, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, provided new vehicles for collaboration. At one point, HHW hosted 17 AmeriCorps VISTA members throughout Ohio. The future seemed bright!
However, through all of this, HHW never broke through its greatest challenge: increasing its general operating revenue. Managing a series of program grants and a team of volunteers with a small professional staff – despite the heroic work of talented volunteers – strained the organization beyond its capacity. A major fundraising effort to raise general operating funds through gifts and grants did not achieve the needed results. Efforts to merge with another nonprofit, or to find program adopters at other agencies, were similarly unsuccessful. By mid-2012, HHW was in a debt position and growing worse by the day. In September 2012, the HHW Board of Directors made the difficult decision to suspend operations and assess a path forward. Today, HHW has stabilized its finances by returning to its roots as an all-volunteer organization. Our focus in the coming months will be to give birth to the next iteration of HHW. Your ideas are needed. Please watch this site for event announcements.
Click a year to see HHW milestones
HHW works with Habitat for Humanity to build a house for a low income, single mother. Sexual Harassment Prevention Training program is created.
The Roadways to Economic Independence (REI) project begins with a goal to increase the number of women employed in road construction. HHW is on a committee which monitors EEO Compliance during the construction of the Great Lakes Science Center.
The REI project wins the Working Women Count Award from the Women’s Bureau, Department of Labor.
The Educational Resources Development Project begins in Cleveland primary schools.
HHW wins the “Making a Difference” Award from the Ohio Women’s Policy and Research Commission. Three HHW members are featured on the nationally syndicated news show, “60 Minutes” in a segment entitled, Hard Hats.
HHW wins the Competitive TANF Grant and celebrates its 20th Anniversary. HHW is awarded a federal contract to provide affirmative action consulting at the Federal Courthouse construction site.
HHW is awarded a WANTO (Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide technical assistance to unions and employers for the recruitment and retention of women workers.
HHW is awarded an Economic Development Award for Excellence in Community Service from the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
HHW is awarded a second WANTO grant to provide technical assistance to unions and employers.
HHW awarded a contract with the Cleveland Municipal School District to provide affirmative action monitoring services at 60 schools receiving renovation and reconstruction. HHW moved to new, expanded offices.
HHW celebrates its 25th anniversary! The George Gund Foundation 2003 Annual Report features HHW. HHW receives national coverage in the media on the NBC Today Show.
HHW celebrated the grand opening of its completely renovated Meeting and Training Facility. HHW launched Rosie’s Girls, a summer camp for middle school girls to foster self-esteem and team building. HHW partnered with Greater Cleveland Community Shares, Adoption Network Cleveland and the ACLU of Ohio to create a special volunteer program targeted to the interests of baby boomers and retirees.
23 women graduate from Pre-Apprenticeship Training; 24 girls graduate from Rosie’s Girls Program. Nine women graduate from a pilot program in Micro-Electrical Mechanical Systems, organized in collaboration with the Ohio MEMS Academy. HHW partners with Habitat for Humanity during the WomenBuild project – helping to construct a house with all female labor.
HHW is awarded an 18 month, competitive $90,000 grant from Department of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Faith-Based and Community-Based Initiative for adult education.
HHW is chosen by Community Wealth Ventures to be one of the non-profits the national organization works with in Cleveland, to develop a business plan for a social income generating venture.
HHW is chosen by Cleveland Bridge Builders to be a site for its Leadership Action Project. The year-long process allowed emergent leaders to learn about our work in advocating for systems changes in the construction industry, and evaluated our advocacy work with a tool called the “Community Benefits Agreement” as a way to promote equity and responsible development in our region.
HHW institutes an Action Alert Hotline and a weekly update on its website in order to provide timely information on legislative and policy issues related to gender equity, nontraditional occupations, and employment and training for the women we serve.
HHW is instrumental to the City of Cleveland’s Departments of Economic Development and Workforce Development, convening a coalition of community groups to examine the “best practice” of a Community Benefits Agreement. This model would ensure that women and minorities are fairly represented on large scale development projects.
35 women graduate from Pre-Apprenticeship Training; 60 girls graduate from Rosie’s Girls Program. HHW wins the Excellence in Non Profit Organizations award from Ohio Association of Non Profit Organizations, for the Rosie’s Girls program.
HHW obtains a second, competitive $60,000 grant from Department of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Faith-Based and Community-Based Initiative for adult education.
HHW was only one of three agencies nationwide to receive a two year, $300,000 grant from the Department of Labor, Women in Apprenticeships in Non Traditional Occupations (WANTO), to assist women enter apprenticeships in the trades related to roadway construction.
15 women graduate from Pre-Apprenticeship Training; 46 girls graduate from Rosie’s Girls Program.
HHW launches Superior Workforce Solutions, a social venture offering a package of consultative services to government entities, project owners, contractors and unions.
HHW’s work in the Women in Non Traditional Occupations (WANTO) grant creates excellent relationships with pre-apprenticeship and union apprenticeship programs, taking HHW STATEWIDE. 98 women are placed in registered apprenticeships during the year.
Recognizing its promise to end poverty, The United Way of Greater Cleveland provides HHW with a $60,000 community responsive grant.
Lilly Ledbetter, a leader in the fight for equal pay regardless of gender, is the keynote speaker at the 29th Women on the Rise.
HHW obtains a contract with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, to assist the reentry of women who have taken “nontrad” training during their stay at Marysville Correctional Center.
Like other non profits, HHW faces an unprecedented, challenging funding environment. In response, HHW professionalizes its operations and shifts to a more entrepreneurial model. The transformation does not come without conflict and loss of some Board and staff.
Terri Sandu Burgess becomes HHW’s third executive director in November, 2008.
HHW makes the difficult decision to shelve its Pre-Apprenticeship Training (PAT) program in 2009. Instead, HHW partners with other training providers, to ensure that women are fairly represented and stay in programs that lead to high wage careers.
HHW takes the best parts of PAT and opens them up to more women through creation of Tradeswoman TOOLS (training, outreach, opportunities, learning and support) program. TOOLS offers four levels of support: outreach, education, supportive services and mentoring.
The Department of Labor offers HHW an unsolicited, $163,755 extension of its WANTO grant.
The United Way of Greater Cleveland renews its community responsive grant with HHW.
HHW obtains its first grant under Superior Workforce Solutions with a major energy provider, to recruit two women into their technical workforce.
After reviewing Tradeswomen TOOLS, the Corporation for National Community Services program awards HHW the services of seven VISTA volunteers over a three-year period to develop, maintain and expand the program. The first members start their full time, year-long service in August 2009. This is a three year investment valued at $525,000.
HHW begins refining its NEW Pathways program into WISE Pathways – a 40-45 hour career exploration and readiness workshop, highlighting careers in energy, skilled manufacturing, and construction and featuring panel presentations by employers, training providers, and women already working successfully in these fields. WISE Pathways also helps women acquire core life skills such as team building, communication and preparation for the nontraditional workplace, such as strategies for resolving conflict, handling harassment, and developing confidence and a competitive edge. Site visits and hands-on projects give women concrete experience on which to base career decisions. WISE Pathways was offered in both Cleveland, through support of United Way and the Institute for Career Development (a subsidiary of the Steel Workers Union) and in Columbus through support by AEP Ohio.
In addition to running a successful Rosie’s Girls camp in Cuyahoga County, HHW also partnered with Lorain County Community College to offer the camp in Elyria.