In 1980, a community task force formed to address the needs of displaced homemakers. With the idea that Service, Opportunity, Action, and Responsibility could be a two-way street between a program and its participants, Project SOAR was born. The YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association), recognizing the special needs of displaced homemakers, took Project SOAR under its umbrella and roof.
The goal of Project SOAR was to counteract the devastation felt by many displaced homemakers who suddenly found themselves alone and expected to support themselves and their children without the skills, experience and self-concept necessary to secure employment.
Since that time, some things have changed. In 1983 Project SOAR became a private, non-profit corporation with a Board of Directors to oversee it, and began serving those not qualifying under the displaced homemaker guidelines but who were in similar social and economic circumstances. Project SOAR grew from serving 61 participants in its first year to serving 605 participants in 1991. Throughout the changes and growth, Project SOAR remained constant to its original goal of helping our participants ready themselves to become independent members of society.
In September 2005, Project SOAR hosted a celebration marking 25 years of service to the Northland. Staff and Board Members dished up root beer floats and handed out free popcorn and kites while current and former clients visited with each other, former staff members, and community supporters. Funders and representatives of other local organizations were present to offer their congratulations and share in the festivities.
From 1980 to 2005 an estimated 7000 people have been helped to achieve their dreams, gain employment, or start a business. In 2005, 78% of our clients successfully completed their program goals. More importantly, 146 people became employed, enrolled in education, or started a business. Those who gained employment earned an average wage of $9.02.
On April 3, 2006, Project SOAR officially changed its name to SOAR Career Solutions. The non-profit organization provides affordable, holistic, and creative career and business planning services to job seekers and career changers. SOAR utilizes a personalized team approach, focusing on the customers’ life passions, core values, and talents so they can identify, obtain, and keep their ideal job or start their own business.
The name change reflects the organization’s expanding focus. SOAR offers both short-term services like preparation of resumes and cover letters, interview coaching, and interest/career assessments and also in-depth, long-term support needed by some to break the cycle of poverty and successfully enter the workforce.
|1980||Housed and fiscally managed by the YWCA.|
|1981-1982||Core programs lasted up to 12 weeks.|
|1982-1983||Developed a simple research model that would help identify the problems facing low-income women as they tried to enter the educational arena. The model became known as WEB and was funded by CURA through the University of Minnesota. SOAR joined forces with the College of St. Scholastica to complete the research.|
|1983-1984||Became a private non-profit and moved to its present location in the Arrowhead Place building. First Board of Directors was formed. WEB research was completed and recommendations given. The City of Duluth requested that we compete for CDBG funds. SOAR became a member of the United Way.|
|1985-1986||Soaring Services were added and became a training instrument for participants. This program involved typing for businesses and individuals. SOAR was chosen by the National Displaced Homemaker Network to participate in a two-year study on how to better serve older women. We worked in conjunction with Duluth Area Vocational Technical Institute, and the funding was through the Carl Perkins Act.|
|1987-1988||The Carl Perkins effort was successful and we received a two-year grant to initiate a state wide WEB program can create a resource manual. We received a grant to address cuts to Aid to Families with Dependent Children and another grant to work specifically with older women.|
|1988-1989||Developed Sexual Exploitation Policies and The Management by Values Policies for the Board of Directors and Staff.|
|1989-1990||The first Follow Your Dreams held at the DECC. SOAR developed a concept known as “Alliance for Educational Equity” which tried to define the reasons for the lack of education within certain groups of people. Developed a position of Minority Counselor to better serve American Indian women.|
|1993||Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment (WISE) began.|
|1994||Groups offered included: Getting Ready, Job Finding Lab (Ordean Foundation provided grant) and WISE.|
|1999||Job Finding Lab was replaced with the “Worknet” curriculum.|
|2001||Revised mission statement and developed a strategic plan.|
|2002||Getting Ready ended with the loss of Displaced Homemaker funding.|
|2004||Received a five-year contract for Hope VI funding. Revised our mission statement again.|
|2005||WISE loses funding. Community Development Block Grant funding cut. SOAR celebrated its 25th Anniversary.|
|2006||Gained Prisoner Re-entry Initiative funding. Changed name and started targeting higher income populations.|
|2007||CORP Program is awarded Governor's Best Practices award|
|2012||Began on-site Adult Basic Education classes through a partnership with the Adult Learning Center|
SOAR Career Solutions
205 West 2nd Street, Suite 101
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: (218) 722-3126
Fax: (218) 722-4617