The Mariano Rivera Foundation provides mentorship, life skills, STEM education, and job training to at-risk youth. With support from industry vendors such as EFI, KonicaMinolta, Ricoh, Idealliance, Printing United Alliance and Adobe, it will also channel much-needed talent to the printing industry. Heidi Tolliver-Walker provides an update on the first class of graduates.
At EFI Connect in January 2022, the printing industry learned about the incredible work the Mariano Rivera Foundation is doing to bring mentorship, life skills, STEM education and job training to at-risk youth. This training will not only change the lives of talented young men, but with the support of industry vendors such as EFI, KonicaMinolta, Ricoh, Idealliance, Printing United Alliance and Adobe, it will also channel much-needed talent into the the impression.
The Mariano Rivera Foundation was founded by Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera, who is committed to providing at-risk youth with the same kinds of opportunities he was given as he was growing up. in poverty in Panama. Headquarters will be located on church property in New Rochelle, NY, until the foundation’s 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art permanent training facility can be completed.
The foundation began offering vocational training in printing (the Print, Design and Packaging Development program [PDPD] program) thanks to Luis Villa, Vice President of Print Production – CIP of Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office (ATO), who got in touch with Rivera through a mutual contact. Villa saw an opportunity to provide career opportunities for these students while meeting the printing industry’s need for new talent. Larry Weiss, president of ATO’s Atlantic, supported the effort, and ATO was an integral facilitator in launching the program and continuing to expand its robustness and reach.
The PDPD program is run out of Gainesville, Florida. Konica-Minolta, Ricoh, EFI and Idealliance helped launch the program by providing training modules and “train the trainer” support. Students receive the same training as members of the printing industry and have the opportunity to earn coveted industry certifications.
“Once they graduate from the program, we consider them more than entry-level,” Villa said. “We consider them ‘entry level plus’.”
A second training center is scheduled to open in July in Carlstadt, NJ, using building space leased by Premium Color Graphics.
The first students in the Gainesville PDPD program have completed Konica-Minolta Outward Associate certification, which is the first step toward a Konica-Minolta instructor-led hardware class. Six students completed the full set of EFI Fiery professional certifications, followed by completion of the Ricoh Learning Institute and Color Management Professional (CMP) certification from Idealliance.
The last week of April, Villa flies to Gainesville to prepare students for job interviews. Later in May, local printers and participating copier and printer dealers will have the opportunity to interview them as potential recruits.
“The benefit for them is not just the ability to hire highly skilled employees,” Villa said. “It’s the EFI Fiery and CMP certifications that these employees bring with them.
The Atlantic Tomorrow office knows the value of these students. Villa hired one of the MRF program participants, Leevinsky Leonard, in January. Although Leonard did not complete the professional impression program, Villa recognized his talent and trained him in-house.
“He has been with us for several months and is doing very well,” Villa said.
Leonard’s first week on the job, Villa recalls, he was preparing to meet one of the ATO technicians in the field.
“He texts me at 6 a.m. ‘I’m ready to go. Who am I meeting?’” Villa said. “Can you imagine? A 19-year-old kid who says, “I’m ready to go”! He is Pleasant. He is nice and he is motivated. Almost from the start, I sent it to a KonicaMinolta facility with one of our seasoned technicians.
Leevinsky Leonard with Stephen Hammond at the KM C7100 installation at Minuteman Press in Nanuet, NY
Once Leonard completes his training, Villa integrates him into his Westchester team as a production support engineer.
The foundation is also pleased to announce that the Carlstadt, NJ training site has been officially approved to hold classes. It is expected that these courses will begin in early July and that students will be selected for the program in May.
“Because there is a fully functional printing facility there, these students will have a real advantage,” Villa said. “They will have access to prepress, digital production of Premium Color (two Ricoh C9210 color and one Ricoh black and white 8020, all equipped with Fiery controllers), industrial large format (EFI large format H5 and LXPro3 and Mimaki rollfed large format ); and a complete finishing department with four high-end Esko/Kongsbergs. It’s a huge advantage.
Premium Color Group is also one of only three printers in the country capable of printing and customizing images on tissue paper. This provides students with unique, highly marketable experiences.
Although Gainesville students are working online, they will be flown in for 40 hours of hands-on training at Premium Color later this spring.
With the Carlstadt, NJ site ready to launch, the foundation is targeting Houston as its next training center.
“There are tons of printers out there,” Villa said. “Soon they’ll have a stream of potential employees coming in with a significant skill set.”
In addition to offering free online training and certifications for students, EFI is adding coaching with its field engineers in the Gainesville area. Other heavyweights like Alphagraphics are also looking for ways to get involved.
In May, Printing United Alliance will mark part of its 70-course “I Learning Plus” training program at the Mariano Rivera Foundation.
“It’s the same content that everyone will get, but when students or someone from the foundation logs in, it will be tagged to them,” Villa said.
Villa also creates its own course catalog which divides modules into three different levels (Technical Field Support, Design and Prepress, and Packaging/Wide Format) to help students identify potential career paths early on.
In June, in the New York/New Jersey area, the foundation will offer two Lean Six Sigma certification courses.
In August, Adobe certification will be added.
“Gainesville will be the only professional training center with Adobe-certified training,” Villa said. “We will be training one of our existing trainers on the modules to have Adobe certified instructors on staff.