The Heart of What We Do

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Organization's Mission Statement

CareerPoint’s Mission is to develop a strong workforce system by enhancing the competitive strength of companies, improving the skills of employees and jobseekers and expanding career opportunities for citizens through economic development.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Who We Are and What We Do:CareerPoint is a One-Stop Career Center serving the workforce development needs of both the business community and individual job seekers throughout Holyoke, Massachusetts, and the greater Connecticut River Valley region. Our stated mission is: “To develop a strong workforce system by enhancing the competitive strength of companies, improving the skills of employees and jobseekers and expanding career opportunities for citizens.” This mission is accomplished via our broad array of concrete programs and services, listed both on our Fact Sheet (attached) and on our website, The great majority of our services are free to our customers, and we have no eligibility requirements for participation. Every year, we serve approximately 12,000 jobseekers and 1,000 employers, almost 150% over our performance expectations. Since our opening in April of 1996, CP has won two national awards, as well as a long list of state and local awards. We credit this success to many factors: our amazing staff; our commitment to exceptional customer service; our community relationships; our collaborative approach to problem solving; and our entrepreneurial “can do” attitude towards all we undertake. A Strong Start then a Slow Spiral Downward: When CareerPoint first opened its doors in 1996, we had freshly purchased, internet-connected (unusual at the time) PC’s fully loaded with Microsoft software and systems and so we proudly proclaimed that our center was “state-of-the-art”. However, as the years passed, we watched the pace of technological upgrades quicken and our own equipment and software become obsolete. Although we utilized all the support programs available (including the wonderful TechSoup Microsoft Software Donation Program) we nevertheless found ourselves apologizing for our technology instead of bragging by the time our 10th anniversary came around in 2006. The consequences of not keeping up technologically were severe. Our Youth Program had enormous difficulty running its required software. The adaptive technology programs used by customers living with disabilities would randomly malfunction. Internally, our out-of-date systems had our IT staff running ragged: addressing large problems such as system breakdowns or virus attacks which sometimes crippled our center for days at a time. Even small inconveniences such as slow email or not being able to print at a local printer had the result of making our jobs unnecessarily difficult. The harsh truth was that our aging and outdated hardware and software was not allowing customers to focus on their immediate goals: finding work and gaining skills. So, a little over two years ago, we decided that we needed to focus on an IT overhaul if we were to effectively meet the needs of our community and our customers. We See the Light:During the winter of 2006-2007, we reviewed our IT history and identified both short and long term goals, a process that culminated in our very first IT plan (Attached.) During the drafting of this plan, we recognized and documented an important, core truth: “The use of technology is at the heart of every process, program and service at CareerPoint.” On the service side, we realized that whether they were taking academic and occupational assessments, accessing job listings and job matching services, completing on-line applications, or doing necessary labor market research, our customers depend upon technology, primarily from Microsoft, to find, get, and keep their jobs. Additionally, all the software applications we teach in our basic computer literacy classes are Microsoft products, and our customers needed to learn the latest and best versions. Behind the scenes, where our services are organized and managed, technology is even more prevalent. When it comes to appointment scheduling, data collection, report generation, program and information sharing, development of materials, CP relies on technology to get the job done. All of these functions are performed with Microsoft software and operating systems. Consequently, all CareerPoint’s strategic planning over the last two years has had a central focus on upgrading and improving our aging technology infrastructure. The impact of this decision has been profound. Contest Wins and Microsoft Upgrades:Our first major boost came when we entered a local computer company’s “Technology Makeover” Contest. Whalley Computers ( generously donated $20,000 worth of equipment to the company best able to convince them of their need for a “makeover”. Fresh off our IT plan construction, CareerPoint put together a PowerPoint slide show outlining this need and our commitment. (Attached.) Much to our surprise and delight, we won first place out of 150 applicants! The prize included servers, desktops, antivirus software and Microsoft Office software. Building off the Whalley win we wrote two grants to local foundations within a 6 month period and secured $30,000 for our IT plan realization. We were now able to make a major shift: a move away from desktop computing to a server-centric computing model. Powered by Microsoft Windows Server 2003, we completed this change last year. The direct benefit to our customers has been dramatic. In addition to the obvious benefits of increased speed and ease of use, our improvements have allowed us to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2007, allowing both job seeking and business customers to learn and use the best and the latest; increase the functionality of adaptive equipment to serve customers living with disabilities; increase our ability to run programs in other languages such as Spanish and Russian; provide a stable base from which to fill out on-line job applications; and reduce on-going issues with accessing storage devices such as flash drives in our Resource Center. Overall customer service has significantly improved because appointments are easier to schedule, information about classes is more accessible, and a myriad of other details that depend upon speed and accuracy of IT systems have had the kinks worked out. We are not exaggerating when we state that our technology upgrades have positively benefited each and every one of our 12,000 job seeking customers and 1,000 businesses customers. There’s Still More To Do: One of our computer labs is still woefully out of date. Fifteen of our staff are working on old, essentially obsolete machines. To remain competitive, local companies are requesting more media-rich training options, which require the purchase of additional equipment. In these harsh economic times our customers need every support available. Our hope today is that the excitement and pride we at CareerPoint feel at incorporating technology into helping people find and keep a job will be clear to the people reading the Microsoft “Show Your Impact” submissions. Our story is a simple one, but one with tremendous consequences for our community. We are grateful for the opportunity to tell it.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery