NRF Foundation names inaugural RISE Up ‘Partner of the Year’

The award was presented to The Center for the Future of Arizona at the NRF Foundation Honors on Jan. 12, 2020
By Lottie Watts

The NRF Foundation has named The Center for the Future of Arizona as its first-ever RISE Up “Partner of the Year.” The award recognizes CFA’s dedication to providing life-changing opportunities for people through its innovative use of RISE Up, the Foundation’s training and credentialing program that prepares people with the skills they need to launch a career in retail.

CFA works with community colleges, adult education programs, high schools and retailers to provide access to RISE Up training to people of all backgrounds and education levels.

Jeanne Przekota is among the hundreds of people who have completed RISE Up training in the Greater Phoenix area.  She spent 45 years working in an administrative capacity, with the past 30 years in the escrow/title insurance industry – work she describes as “stressful.”

But after she retired in March of 2019, she finished her to-do list quickly and found herself with too much free time on her hands. She says she took a chance and signed up for the RISE UP Retail Industry Fundamentals class.

With her certification, she was hired by Fry’s Food Stores as an e-commerce clerk, filling online grocery orders for customers who are unable to shop for themselves or prefer to have someone else do it, including people who are at home recovering from surgery, parents with small children who are hesitant to take them to the store or people who are short on time.

“Most have become regulars to our service and have learned to trust me, knowing that I’m picking their groceries as if they were my own, and that makes all of us happy,” Przekota says.

And it’s work she thoroughly enjoys.

“It’s the only job I’ve ever had where I get to be nice and helpful to people all day long,” she says.

In Arizona – like most of the United States – retail is a top employer. But employers are challenged to find the workers they need.

“Only the NRF Foundation could bring together the retail industry to create training and credentials to help nonprofits and schools help people become trained and find jobs in retail,” says Holly Kurtz, CFA’s director of workforce development.  “Because of these curriculums and credentials, people who are looking for good jobs with an upward career path – and for economic stability – get the preparation and support they need.”

The inaugural RISE Up “Partner of the Year” award was presented by Macy’s at the NRF Foundation Honors on Jan. 12, 2020 in New York City. The department store chain is among a handful of retailers that offer interviews for people who have earned a RISE Up credential.

“We’re raising the perception, value and worthiness of careers in retail by having RISE Up in our classrooms,” Kurtz says. “There is a professionalism that comes by having the training and the credential.”

The NRF Foundation has 800 RISE Up training partners across the country, providing training that improves the lives of their students and their communities. Since 2017, 75,000 people have completed RISE Up training.

Is your organization changing lives with RISE Up? Share your story with us to be considered for next year’s RISE Up “Partner of the Year” award.

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