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Truist Foundation & CAEL - Where it Starts: Build Better Careers

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is leading a national project funded by the Truist Foundation, "Where It Starts," to improve connections between postsecondary institutions, the financial services sector, and workforce development organizations, to strengthen career pathways to jobs that lead to economic mobility. ("Where It Starts" is a Truist Foundation multi-year initiative designed to create real, meaningful change for entrepreneurs and career-seekers in underserved communities. Truist Foundation partners with local and national nonprofits to build new, innovative programs that break down barriers and open doors for growth and success.) 

This six-year project will be offered across five cities to provide adult learners with access to affordable postsecondary classes, connect more job seekers to higher-wage jobs and long-term career opportunities, and encourage financial services organizations to hire more adult learners and set them up for success. CAEL has selected the Charlotte, NC, Memphis, TN, and South Florida regions as three of five locations to implement this initiative and is asking for your engagement. 

CAEL's Where It Starts: Build Better Careers Initiative seeks to engage industry leaders, workforce development, and postsecondary education institutions that historically have not developed strategies to collaborate on meeting the needs of 1) people who seek employment or better employment and 2) employers who need to recruit, retain, skill-up, and advance employees, increase diversity, and strengthen equity and inclusion. The initiative will focus on cities where in-demand jobs remain unfilled, workforce organizations, and educational institutions that need to improve collaboration to redefine and strengthen career pathways to employment that lead to economic mobility for all, prioritizing women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) adult learners. Read the press release here.


Foundation | Where It Starts
Branch Banking and Trust Company

Goals of Build Better Careers in Each Location

Whether your organization is an employer, a workforce board, or a community-based organization, your input in the process of strengthening career pathways is vital to successfully align this initiative to the current ecosystem of your region.

Examples of Impact

Read our article in The Evolllution
Where It Starts: Build Better Careers Initiative

CAEL’s Investment in Each Region Will Help Realize Value Across Stakeholders


Workforce Boards

  • Access to resources such as:
    • Additional training programs
    • Internship programs
    • Data platform
  • Recognition of national initiatives
  • Better serve the community


Community-Based Organizations

  • Success in a coordinated approach to solving complex needs
  • Recognition as a leader in the region
  • Creating availability of additional opportunities
  • Ensure sustainability of the approach



  • Have access to more people than traditional talent pools
  • Access to participate in developing training opportunities to access trained talent and upskill current talent
  • Raising economic prosperity of the individuals and the community
  • Removing barriers to accessing talent
  • Removing barriers to entry points for new talent and advancement for existing employees
  • Have access to more people than the traditional talent pool
  • Access to participate in developing training opportunities to access trained talent and upskill current talent
  • Raising economic prosperity of the individuals and the community


Education & Training Providers

  • Targeted approach to targeting adult learners where they are
  • Peer to Peer shared data: accumulation, completion and job placement, and growth
  • Incentives to build curriculum in alignment with career pathways/competency maps specific to local industry


Our National Partners and Collaborative Stakeholders


Our Partners and Collaborative Stakeholders in Memphis, TN


Our Partners and Collaborative Stakeholders in South Florida

Learn More

A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) is available here. As additional cities and regions are selected, we will update this page accordingly. For more information and to find out how to get involved with the Build Better Careers initiative, please contact Ashley Wilhelm at awilhelm@cael.org.