Goodwill Partners with Empower to Provide Educational Opportunities

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NexStep Alliance Expansion to Serve Wichita’s North End

WICHITA, KAN. — Goodwill’s adult education program, NexStep Alliance has entered into an agreement with Empower to provide GED preparation classes to Wichita’s North End neighborhood beginning in January 2022 and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes beginning in August.

In an area of town where approximately 40% of residents do not have a Kansas High School diploma and less than 8% hold college degrees1, this arrangement puts a viable educational pathway within reach of individuals that are ready to embrace the power of now and take the next step in their educational journey.

NexStep Alliance serves nearly 400 students over the course of an academic year and provides a variety of educational pathways including GED preparation classes, ESL, digital skills training, virtual classroom options, technical and post-secondary transition support as well as career services. Through its partnership with WSU Tech, 49 students have gone on to earn college credentials in 2021.

The expansion to Empower will provide two classrooms and will accommodate up to 45 students each eight-week session.

“When we talk about connecting residents to resources, we couldn’t find a better partner than Goodwill and NexStep Alliance. Their reputation as a workforce leader and education provider will bring credibility and more importantly results to our community,” said Ariel Rodriguez, Executive Director of Empower.

This will be the second major expansion for NexStep Alliance, following the launch of NexStep South. Centrally located near WSU Tech South, the South campus has seen a number of students return to share their stories in overcoming obstacles with new enrollees. Maria T. is one student who has found success through NexStep, completing her CNA and now working on her CMA using Kansas Pathway to Career legislation that Goodwill Industries of Kansas co-authored and was signed into law by Governor Laura Kelly in 2019.

“Students like Maria are a prime example of what we’re able to accomplish when we bring together resources and opportunities,” said Laura Ritterbush, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Kansas. “Our mission is on full display at all of our NexStep locations and helps show the communities we serve that we are more than a thrift store.”

Enrollment for NexStep Alliance GED and ESL classes will run January 3-6 at 3351 N. Webb Rd in Wichita. For more information about enrolling visit or call (316) 677—1150.


About Goodwill Industries of Kansas, Inc.

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Goodwill Industries of Kansas provides opportunities for people with disabilities and barriers to employment seeking independent and productive lives. Hundreds of people with disabilities receive case management services and develop life and job skills through employment at Goodwill’s home office and in the community. Whether it be recycling donated items or preparing insulation for local aviation manufacturers, Goodwill clients and employees have found success and become more independent through work in our contracts division.

In addition, adults work toward their GED and other certificate programs through NexStep Alliance, a partnership between Goodwill and WSU Tech. More than 1,400 individuals receive services through Goodwill each year. These programs are supported by 18 retail stores in Kansas along with an online division at For more information about Goodwill, visit

About Empower, Inc.

Empower, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2020, provides the North End residents of Wichita, a predominantly Hispanic community, connection to a continuum of educational opportunities, work-readiness preparation, and small business development resources in a culturally inviting, bilingual, and comfortable space at the Evergreen Community Center and Library. For more information about Empower, visit