The grant will be divided among several chapters of SAGEWorks, a program that provides workplace tools and training for those 40 and over, including the Philadelphia chapter.
SAGE USA executive director Michael Adams said this is the third time the Walmart Foundation has provided SAGEWorks a grant.
Adams said the organization applied for the grant so it could continue the work it has already established throughout the country.
“We are always seeking funding. We need financial support for our programs for LGBT older adults,” Adams said. “In this particular case, we are talking about our work-readiness program so LGBT older adults can keep working and earn an income.”
The Philadelphia chapter of the organization, which was established in 2009, is housed at the William Way LGBT Community Center. The local SAGEWorks program started last year.
“SAGEWorks is a job-readiness program that helps seniors to get back into the work force and provides them with tools and education,” explained William Way senior-programs coordinator Ed Miller. “We bring seniors in and have an orientation to talk about the program. We give access to an online job-search website, conduct assessments and provide free training.”
The program offers free computer classes for computer users of all skill levels, as well as résumé workshops and job-training seminars.
“There is a beginner class, a class for people who have some experience with computers and a more advanced class, and they are taught by a professional instructor. People walk away with good tools,” Miller said. “We have people who volunteer to help people with their résumés and get them ready to be in an interview. We have a lot of seminars where people come in from businesses around the city and talk about their workplaces.”
More than 60 people have taken advantage of the program in the past year, Miller said.
Adams noted that, although the specific amount that will go towards each affiliate has not been determined, he anticipates the grant could generate more corporate interest in LGBT philanthropy, specifically for older-adult initiatives.
“SAGE’s goal is to get a really broad range of corporate America interested in the needs of LGBT older adults so when you get a company and their foundation as large as Walmart to step forward and support a program, we hope it has huge impact and corporations start to take notice,” he said.
Miller added the grant would help program leaders draw new participants, as well as send a clear message that corporations should support the LGBT community.
“In my personal view, it is terrific that they are stepping up in a significant way. It is an opportunity for Walmart to make a difference,” he said. “Walmart is realizing that they need to be more inclusive and accepting of the LGBT community.”
Also this week, Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, announced it would grant domestic-partner benefits to employees.