When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Patrevia Moore saw people around her getting laid off, and she was worried she was next.

She started thinking about other options, and then her daughter told her there would be a special announcement at her school, Jacquet Middle School. The announcement changed Moore’s life, and she signed up for the entrepreneurship classes with the Phalen Leadership Academy University

“I woke up and said, ‘Hey, I only have this particular income. And what if they were to say tomorrow, ‘You don’t have a job,’ then that will leave me vulnerable to the point where I cannot provide for me and my family,” Moore said. “So I took it upon myself to take advantage of the opportunity that PLA was presenting to me.”

The PLA University gives community members access to workforce development programs they may not otherwise have. As of the first week of August, the organization helped 70 people get continued education since it launched in Fort Worth in January and is preparing to welcome more.

Want to apply for October classes?

Visit https://plauniversity.org/ 

The program provides funding for training and workshops for high-demand certifications, Tammy Galloway, executive director of the PLA University in Fort Worth, said.

Phalen Leadership Academy is a nonprofit organization partnered with Fort Worth ISD to operate Jacquet Middle School. The university services extend to any family member of a Jacquet Middle School student and to residents of Tarrant County in need, Galloway said.

The program is for people who would like to have a promotion in their career or career aspirations but are unable to afford the training they need to increase their economic sustainability and independence, Galloway said.

The training offered is specific to the demands of Fort Worth. Galloway said the group prepares them based on reports on workforce needs in the city. Currently, they’re offering supply chain and logistics, healthcare or entrepreneurship. 

For Moore, the training and workshops are helping her with rebranding her business, The Balanced Lyfe Scrubs. She’s worked in medical offices for years and noticed she was constantly buying new scrubs because of the fabric wearing out. 

Now, she sells higher-quality scrubs and gives 10% of the profits to women and children in need or who have been saved from sex trafficking.

Part of what makes PLA University a good experience for Moore is the diverse people in the program and feeling like everyone can be open.

“They created a space where it was safe for us to each say our thoughts without getting scrutinized, without getting judged,” she said. “It made it feel like we were very welcome — in this type of community that we are in, we don’t often get that — so for them to offer a safe space for all of us to share our experiences and our different paths of life, that was just amazing.”

A philanthropic organization, that wishes to remain anonymous, is funding the initiative in Tarrant County. The university started when CEO Eric Phalen believed the organization should help the entire family, not just students, Galloway said. He wanted to uplift entire communities.

People can apply online, and Galloway said it’s open to all who haven’t achieved their career aspirations because of historical disadvantage. This can be because of a lack of funding or opportunity.

The group already is seeing generational impact. A mother and her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend all joined after the mother was in the first cohort, Galloway said.

Moore plans to do more with the program, too. She wants to pursue a pharmacy technician certification next.

“I really feel like PLA will be around for a long time,” Moore said. “And they’re going to do wonders.”

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at kristen.barton@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Kristen Barton

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She has previous experience in education reporting for her hometown paper, the Longview News-Journal and her college paper, The Daily...