OTI Awarded U.S. Department of Labor Grant for Women in Apprenticeship


OTI Staff

Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. Staff Members

Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. (OTI) is proud to announce that on June 14, 2016, we were awarded a Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations (WANTO) grant to continue our work connecting women with high wage, high skill trades careers through registered apprenticeship.

“Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. is honored to work with our partners, Seattle-based Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women and Oakland, California-based Tradeswomen Inc. through the Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations program,’’ said Connie Ashbrook, OTI’s Executive Director.  “Many women in our communities are passionately interested in working in the construction, manufacturing and utility trades, but don’t know where to get started.  Our joint efforts to provide women with the education, skills, and connections they need support their access to and success in family-supporting trades careers, while at the same time helping apprenticeship programs and employers diversify their workforces.”

The $650,000 will be awarded over the course of two years. It will fund direct technical assistance work in the Portland, Seattle, and Oakland metropolitan regions, as well as outreach throughout the Western United States.

Under our prior WANTO grant, OTI was able to launch the Western Resources Center for Women in Apprenticeship website which supplements our technical assistance efforts and outreach to western apprenticeship programs.

With the support of the U.S. Department of Labor, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue this work and build on our partnerships with ANEW, Tradeswomen, Inc., and registered apprenticeship stakeholders in the western region.


OTI at the United State of Women Summit

The United State of Women Profile PhotoWe are so proud to represent tradeswomen at the United State of Women Summit happening in Washington, DC starting June 14, 2016. The summit is a collaboration of the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute, and Civic Nation. The Summit is a convening of women leaders who will together work to address gender equity in the areas of health and wellness, educational opportunity, violence against women, entrepreneurship and innovation, leadership and civic engagement, and economic opportunity.

OTI’s Executive Director, Connie Ashbrook, will join a delegation of 35 tradeswomen from around the country, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, Tina Fey, Oprah, and thousands of other women all working toward lifting up women and our nation.  Watch the live stream Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 if you’d like to take it in!

While at the Summit, Connie will be supporting the National Taskforce on Tradeswomen’s Issues policy platform by speaking with other attendees about our priorities, which include advocating for:

  • Releasing the new apprenticeship EEO regulations, and ensuring that they contain strong language supporting increasing the number of women in apprenticeship
  • Dedicated, specific federal funding through WANTO that directly supports tradeswomen
  • Increased support for existing workforce hiring goals through compliance efforts and sustainable technical assistance
  • A strengthened pipeline between schools and apprenticeship that has specific goals for female participation

You can follow the conference online and through social media.  Take the pledge to work for gender equity in whatever you do best, and make sure to support your sisters at the #StateOfWomen conference by using the #tradeswomen hashtag when you post!

Congress Passes Extension on WANTO Training Funds!

Senator Merkley Fair

Senator Jeff Merkley at the 2012 Women in Trades Career Fair

We’re thrilled to announce that the Women in Apprenticeship and Non Traditional Occupations (WANTO) program has received funding for another year!  Along with our co-grantees ANEW, Tradeswomen, Inc., NEW-NYC, and Chicago Women in Trades, Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. advocated for the renewal of the WANTO program, which remains the only source of federal funding that specifically targets women’s participation in apprenticeship.

Together in a coalition with our co-grantees, OTI worked closely with the staff of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, whose leadership was instrumental to getting WANTO funds included in the federal budget.

“Women hold less than three percent of high-wage jobs in the construction industry and face many barriers in gaining access to these nontraditional jobs,” said Merkley. “I’ve fought for funding for WANTO because it will make a big difference in helping train and ultimately put women in Oregon to work in high-wage, electrical, mechanical, highway and utility trades jobs that will provide financial security for a lifetime.”


Senator Ron Wyden with TACC instructor Amy at the “Sugar Shack” in Northeast Portland

We’re proud of the work that we have accomplished with WANTO funds, which are critical to our ability to provide training to low income women at no cost to them.  This fall, students in our WANTO-funded Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class inspired community partners and Oregon leaders through their work to demolish and repurpose the former “Sugar Shack” strip club into a Cully neighborhood asset.  We were fortunate to be able to share that work with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, who stopped by the job site after learning about our community partnership.

We’re thankful to our allies in the Senate who heard our call and took action on behalf of women everywhere.

Press Release

Call to Action: Tell Congress You Support Funding WANTO

priscillasmiles.jpgThe Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations (WANTO) Act is a small pool of money that organizations like Oregon Tradeswomen rely on to run pre-apprenticeship classes for women.  WANTO appropriations amounted to less than $2 million over the last two years, but the program’s impact on women’s economic security is colossal.  With the support of this crucial funding source, WANTO grantees (including Oregon Tradeswomen) have helped thousands of women access meaningful careers in male-dominated industries with quality, family-supporting wages.  Regions where WANTO-funded organizations work have more than twice the national average of women employed in construction trades.  WANTO works!

Oregon Tradeswomen needs your help:  The federal budget under currently under consideration by Congress provides zero dollars for WANTO.  But with your help, we can change that and get WANTO back in the budget.  We need your voice for our message to be heard in Congress.

The best way to support Oregon Tradeswomen’s efforts to keep WANTO alive is to contact your elected representatives and tell them how vital WANTO is to women in the trades.  We’ve made it easy – you can write to your representative with the simple template linked below.  (Make sure to read through and personalize your message.)  Support tradeswomen, support OTI, and support our sister organizations around the nation.  Tell Congress that programs that work should be expanded, not cut out of the budget.  Fund WANTO, WANTO works!

WANTO Support Letter Template