Stephen Cooke, NCIA


Audria Belton, Truist

Truist Foundation Awards NCIA $2.8 Million Grant

Funding to support regional expansion of Herbert J. Hoelter Vocational Training Center


BALTIMORE (March 18, 2021) – The Truist Foundation has awarded the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA) a $2,799,596 grant to expand its Herbert J. Hoelter Vocational Training Center (VTC) into six cities over the next two years. The funding will also support the technology and vocational training needs of current and planned centers.

NCIA’s VTC serves metropolitan areas with large populations of people receiving government assistance, reentering the community after incarceration and experiencing homelessness. NCIA opened its first VTC in Baltimore in 2017 and a second center in Charlotte, North Carolina, in January 2020.

The regional expansion will include new centers in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the winter of 2021; Washington, D.C., and Knoxville/Nashville, Tennessee, in the fall of 2021; and cities to be determined in Georgia and Florida in 2022.

“We’re honored and humbled by this incredible gift from the Truist Foundation. This grant will have a tremendous impact on those seeking opportunities for a second chance and financial independence, and allow us to scale our model to serve more returning citizens, veterans and low-income individuals,” states NCIA CEO Herb Hoelter.

The VTC provides vocational training and support services to veterans, returning citizens, opportunity youth (ages 18-24) and those receiving federal assistance. Each center offers 15 weeks of training in a minimum of three vocations depending on job demand in that metropolitan area. Vocations offered vary with each center and include HVAC, automotive, CDL-Class B, culinary arts, drones and construction/electrical. Program participants graduate with a set of supplies and tools needed for their chosen vocation.

“NCIA helped me come up with a solution and plan for myself and gave me the tools I needed to grow,” said Raymon Hall, a CDL-Class B student. “It feels good to know that I have financial and mental support through the NCIA.”

Funding from the Truist Foundation will underwrite startup costs associated with each of the new centers, including staff, rent and build-out expenses. The grant will also provide technology for the students in each center, such as tablets to bridge the digital divide and support participation in the virtual hybrid model required during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone deserves an opportunity to learn the skills needed to enter or reenter the workforce,” said Lynette Bell, president of the Truist Foundation. “NCIA provides people from all walks of life with real-world skill training and tools to succeed. We’re proud to help the VTC expand and provide even more people with the chance for a better quality of life.”

The VTC also provides wrap-around support services, including workforce development, the removal of legal, health, social and financial barriers that can prevent or affect employment, and up to 12 months of support after program completion to ensure job placement and retention.

To date, the VTC has served more than 1,000 individuals since 2017 and boasts a 75% job placement rate with an average wage of $18.15 per hour. Funding from the Truist Foundation will support more than 1,500 new individuals annually.

Watch a brief video about this partnership here: 


About NCIA

Founded in 1977 by Herbert J. Hoelter and Dr. Jerome G. Miller, NCIA is a Baltimore-based non-profit that provides alternative education and workforce training for youth and adults with intellectual and emotionally disabilities and those involved in the criminal justice system. NCIA’s mission is to help create a society in which all persons who come into contact with human service or correctional systems are provided with the care necessary to live their lives to the best of their abilities. NCIA is dedicated to developing quality programs and professional services that advocate timely intervention and unconditional care. For more information about NCIA, visit


About Truist Foundation

The Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes strategic investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life. The Truist Foundation’s grants and activities focus on leadership development, economic mobility, thriving communities and educational equity. Learn more at