Goodwill is well known for its popular retail stores full of donated goods. But at least in South Jersey and Philadelphia, Goodwill's goodwill is actually about a slightly different mission.
"Education, job training and career services that help individuals with disabilities and disadvantages get to work," said Juli Lundberg, the nonprofit organization's director of corporate communications.
"The mass collection and resale of donated goods in Goodwill's retail stores funds these programs," she added.
The nonprofit's 20-plus stores in Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia must be doing well then, because Goodwill is adding a program to its training centers in Burlington and Camden counties.
Starting a little earlier this year, the local training centers added free Microsoft Office training for individuals looking to improve their resume skills for job application processes. The program includes using Word to create reports and letters, Excel to build spreadsheets, PowerPoint to create presentations and Access for crafting and managing databases.
The training program is not class based. Job seekers can enroll at any time and go at their own pace.
"Having solid computer skills is essential in today's constantly evolving automated work environment," said Jen Mauro, Goodwill's vice president of mission services. "By offering this program we help individuals strengthen their resumes to help them secure better jobs or to climb the career ladder."
The computer training programs add to Goodwill's already impressive slate of adult education programs.
Goodwill's Helms Academy, an adult education center, already offers two paths for adults to earn a high school diploma or the equivalent of a high school diploma, both free of charge. Individuals can either take the HiSET exam to earn a high school equivalency credential or they can take 30 college credits to earn a state-issued high school diploma.
In recent years, the local Goodwill organization found that a lot of job seekers lacked this basic resume requirement and needed a way to get it.
"We were finding a lot of applicants didn't meet the minimum requirements for employment in our area," Mauro said. "The basic requirement was a high school diploma, and a lot of folks coming to us didn't have it."
The applicants had no way to get a high school diploma because a lot of the federal and state funded night school programs, often held at local high schools, went away over the last 15 years.
"They are basically nonexistent anymore," Mauro said.
That's why Goodwill opened the Helms Academy in 2015, and it has been a hit. The academy now has five locations: three in New Jersey, including one in Maple Shade, and two more in Philadelphia.
Goodwill has been able to expand the academy because its donations and sales keep going up. Mauro said the role of Goodwill, as a nonprofit, is to "reinvest into programs like these."
Through increasing retail sales over the past half-decade, Goodwill has been able to offer two extensive adult education programs for free. The Microsoft Office training was previously available, but for a fee.
"It's an alternative adult high school," Mauro said. "That's what Goodwill's Helms Academy is."
And while that may not be what Goodwill is, it is still the organization's larger, deeper mission.
"Unless the individual has the ability to pay for themselves to enroll, they won't have access to these opportunities," Mauro said.