Amazon partners with DRC to elevate community initiatives

Investment includes support of Dallas Thrives, programs focused on creating sustainable workforce, equitable and inclusive growth, and improved quality of life

Gloria Salinas, Vice President of Economic Development

Amazon has partnered with the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) to further its commitment to community engagement efforts across the region.

The more than $260,000 investment in the Dallas Regional Chamber’s community initiatives comes after Amazon recently scaled up its operations and hiring in the market. Last year, the retail tech giant added 600 new jobs and 100,000 square feet of office space at its Dallas tech hub at the Galleria Towers in North Dallas. With 37,000 employees in Dallas-Fort Worth, up from 20,000 last summer, more than half of Amazon’s 70,000 jobs in Texas are in the Dallas Region.

Amazon’s engagement and investment in the DRC’s program of work comes as a commitment to not only being a good employer in Dallas, but also a good neighbor, said Vickie Yakunin, Amazon’s Dallas Senior Manager of External Affairs. Yakunin said the partnership with the DRC is a natural fit.

“Amazon supports the DRC’s strategic principles of driving economic growth, fostering collaboration between businesses and community, supporting the prosperity of our region, and building a more inclusive community,” Yakunin said.

More than half of Amazon’s investment will focus on growing wages and talent in the region. The company committed $150,000 to the Dallas Thrives and will invest in eight additional DRC initiatives, including the DRC’s Say Yes to Dallas HackDFW event: a 24-hour hackathon event where aspiring engineers, mentors and sponsors use skills to create new software and hardware products.

Dallas Thrives

Led by the DRC and the Commit Partnership, Dallas Thrives is a community initiative that aims to double living wage attainment in a single generation. Launched in November 2020, the initiative advances five core strategies to support critical regional education-workforce collaborations.

“Through Amazon’s leadership, the DRC will be able to support the development of robust talent pipelines. This in turn will support major employers across the Dallas Region as well as provide high-wage occupational opportunities for our students and adults in key industries,” said Jarrad Toussant, Senior Vice President of Education and Workforce for the DRC.

In October 2018, Amazon announced it would raise its minimum hiring wage to $15 for all U.S. full-time and seasonal employees—impacting more than 250,000 employees across the company. Amazon said the starting wage raise has created a meaningful impact on the lives of their employees.

Earlier this month, the company announced that it is providing an additional 125,000 local employment opportunities throughout the U.S., on top of the 40,000 corporate and technology jobs announced earlier this month. The roles in fulfillment and transportation offer an average starting wage of more than $18 per hour—and up to $22.50 per hour in some locations. 17,000 of those new jobs are expected to be in Texas. In addition to industry leading wages, the company also provides full-time employees with comprehensive benefits from day one, worth an additional $3.50 per hour. They include health, vision, and dental insurance, 401(k) with 50% company match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave, and Amazon’s Career Choice program, in which the company will pay full college tuition for its front-line employees as part of a $1.2 billion investment to expand education and skills training for its U.S. workforce.

“We support initiatives that create equitable opportunities for young adults to grow and thrive,” Yakunin said. “We’ve been pleased to see other major companies raise their starting wages and encourage others to follow suit. When we work together to close gaps, everyone in our community benefits.”

“We have also seen there is a ripple effect from increasing wages that supports all businesses in the region and strengthens communities,” Yakunin added.

Investing in Dallas’ Tech Talent

Amazon’s investment in the Dallas workforce extends into education and fostering the next generation of tech talent.

The company works with students regularly through opportunities like the Amazon Future Engineer program, which is a part of the Dallas Independent School District curriculum. Earlier this year, Amazon had more than 10,000 Dallas ISD students participate in a virtual computer science themed fulfillment center tour.

“As we grow, we want to continue to ensure there are efforts to support the future of our workforce here in Dallas,” Yakunin said. “We have a tech hub here and we work closely with our colleagues at AWS to provide opportunities for students to explore careers in technology.”

This October, Amazon is presenting sponsor of HackDFW, a weekend hackathon that allows tech talent across the region to come together to showcase their problem-solving skills for major companies in the Dallas Region.

“By supporting an event like the HackDFW, we are increasing access to computer science education and fostering new opportunities for aspiring engineers,” Yakunin said.

Yakunin said Amazon supports the DRC’s efforts to be the preeminent voice of the business community and create a better quality of life for all who call the Dallas Region home.

“Through our support of Dallas Thrives, the DRC Hackathon event, State of the Workforce, the Year ahead, and other events, we can play a role in ensuring our community continues to innovate, strengthen the local talent pipeline to ensure both employers and employees alike are benefiting, create more growth, and ensure that this growth is shared equally,” Yakunin said.