• Caroline Glattly

Desire Neighborhood Community Members Pass First Phase of CDL Certification

In a display of remarkable resilience despite increasing social distancing measures, 10 out of 11 participants in Thrive 9th’s CDL program have completed the first step in a program that will help them obtain a commercial driver’s license.

The new program, which began in early March, is one of several initiatives Thrive 9th has launched to help its Desire/Florida neighbors succeed in finding secure, reliable and higher-wage positions. From the get-go, the program was met with overwhelming interest among the community, with over 300 applications!

Taught by Sherleen Cooper, the CDL program provides classroom training, hands-on road training, and testing for Class B CDL, equipping students with the ability to drive several types of commercial vehicles including box trucks, recycling trucks, and school busses.

“The implementation of this program reinforces the mission of moving from surviving to thriving”, says Emily Eckland, the executive assistant at Thrive 9th Ward. “The hope is to give folks a more stable, consistent career, allowing them to be home with their families during the evenings and benefit from job security, healthcare, and a social security net.”

Persevering Despite Unprecedented Obstacles

Program participants faced a big challenge by mid-March when the city buckled down on COVID-19 by implementing a series of social distancing measures that made attending CDL class as usual nearly impossible. But this didn’t stop the dedicated participants from finding their own way to complete phase 1: the required classroom portion of the training.

“It’s remarkable,” says Oscar Brown, director of Thrive 9th Ward, “We had to think about making a decision to cancel, but the students came up with a plan to take the class with certain parameters in place. They took the class in the gym, sitting at least six feet apart, with Ms. Cooper on the microphone”.

Ms. Cooper called the group of students, ranging in age from 21 to 65, “a group of rockstars” and “the best group she ever taught”.

Students take advantage of the spacious gym, following social distancing measures to complete phase 1 of their course

The next step in the program is to take the online exam once the DMV reopens in order to obtain a learners permit. After that, participants will proceed to the road-training portion of the program.

“I expected great results, but the results completely surpassed my expectations”, says Oscar Brown.

These students are an excellent example of the remarkable dedication that members of the community have to start their careers and change their lives, even in the most difficult times. Sometimes all it takes is pulling together to achieve a common goal and investing ourselves in the success of the community. This is just the first triumph of many, in these student’s journeys to better their lives, their careers, and their communities.



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