Wal-Mart, D.C. Announce Job-Training Program

D.C. officials and Wal-Mart announced a three-year, $3 million pilot program Thursday to provide 2,000 city residents with skills needed to succeed in retail, as the box-store giant continues to prepare for at least four locations in the nation’s capital.

Wal-Mart’s contribution will be split between the Community College of the District of Columbia (CCDC) and the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, which will oversee a grant program to improve literacy, language and computer skills.

The program is the first of its kind for the Bentonville, Ark.-based corporation and is intended to cut back on the double-digit unemployment rate among city residents, particularly east of the Anacostia River.

“Right now, it’s a pilot program specifically for D.C.,” said Keith Morris, director of community affairs for Wal-Mart in its East Region.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the program Thursday at the Department of Employment Services’ headquarters in Ward 7, which is also home to the Skyland Town Center that is considered a “viable” location for a fifth Wal-Mart store in addition to the quartet waiting to break ground.

Wal-Mart, whose stores are often greeted with skepticism about how they will affect surrounding areas, had already donated more than $2 million to various programs in the District, including job-training partnerships with the Urban Alliance and D.C. Central Kitchen.

It is still unclear when the four approved stores will be built, as they wend their way through the city’s approval process, according to Mr. Morris.

“We’d like to do it as soon as possible,” Mr. Gray said. “We’d like to get it over with.”

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