Inspiring Support

Learn about ways you can help support a CNC machine-operator training program that enables former gang members to find sustainable employment and successful reentry into society.


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This story describes Rise Up, a CNC machine-operator training program that helps individuals prepare for sustainable employment as a vital element for successful reentry into society and departure from gang live.

Visitors from the industry are often inspired by what they see and hear at Rise Up, says Dustin Greeves, the program’s machine shop manager. A good example he cites is a recent visit by Greg Mercurio, president of Shop Floor Automations, a manufacturing integrator based in La Mesa, California. Mr. Mercurio heard about Rise Up while planning activities to mark his company’s 20th anniversary. “I was looking for a special way to mark this milestone by giving something back to the industry and the community,” he says. “I was intrigued by the concept behind Rise Up because it touches two key concerns of mine—the skills gap that is holding back U.S. machine shops and the false impression held by many people outside our industry that factories are dark, dirty dungeons.”

Mr. Mercurio spent two hours touring the facility and talking to managers as well as trainees currently in the program. “The experience changed my perception,” Mr. Mercurio recalls. “I thought we could help by simply donating one of the solutions that Shop Floor Automations offers to the machining industry. As it turned out, the Rise Up machine shop wasn’t far enough along in its development to be ready for any of these solutions. Mr. Mercurio offered a cash donation instead.

However, seeking to do more, Mr. Mercurio learned about other ways individuals and companies like his can support Rise Up Industries. “There are many ways people can help,” he says. “For example, givingtuesday.org will match donations, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000. You can also download an app called CoinUp, which will donate spare change from credit card charges to a charity of your choosing.” Mr. Mercurio also reports that the most casual way to contribute to Rise Up is by shopping on Amazon. “By using AmazonSmile, the site donates a portion of the profits to a charity and your cart total stays the same. Just make sure you choose Rise Up as the designated charity of choice, and make sure you’re logged into AmazonSmile before checking out,” he says.

Mr. Mercurio admits that his advocacy on behalf of Rise Up is also motivated by his concern that if manufacturing jobs go vacant, it could mean less business for Shop Floor Automations. Even beyond that, he wants his own two young daughters to understand the value of manufacturing and that machine shops are bright, clean and open. “The Rise Up shop is an inspiration on all those levels,” he concludes.