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SEP. 30, 2022

Fresh Start Women’s Foundation Receives $100,000 in Scholarships to Support Women Pursuing Careers in the Skilled Trades

Scholarships available for training in the fields of HVAC and refrigeration, electrical, and welding at The Refrigeration School, Inc.

Media Contact: Brian O’Malley, brian.o’[email protected], 480.703.8338

(PHOENIX, AZ – September 29, 2022) – According to Career School Now, women make up less than 10% of the country’s skilled trades workforce. As employees with skills and credentials in the trades continue to be in strong demand, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation joins forces with StrataTech Education Group to provide $100,000 in tuition scholarships in a continued effort to provide access and resources that help women achieve self-sufficiency and use their strength to thrive.

The scholarships provide Fresh Start clients with career training at The Refrigeration School, Inc. (RSI) in Phoenix in the areas of HVAC & refrigeration, electrical applications, and welding. Exploring a career in the skilled trades allows women who might be earning minimum wage the ability to increase their income upon securing employment after program completion in their chosen trade, all while propelling them toward more sustainable careers. 

Growing up, I saw my mother face similar obstacles to those of Fresh Start’s clients, so I understand first-hand how education can change a woman’s life and give her the life-long skills for employment stability, growth opportunities, flexibility, and financial stability,” said StrataTech Education Group CEO Mary Kelly. “Both our organizations are committed to providing wrap-around services to help the people we serve succeed. As a result, Fresh Start scholarship recipients will have access to various support services, including industry-aligned training, resume, interview, and career support, along with employer connections during and after graduation.

For over 30 years, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation has supported more than 50,000 at-risk women with critical, comprehensive services, resources, education, and training. The majority of Fresh Start’s clients are single mothers who are under or unemployed and face many barriers, such as poverty, domestic violence, homelessness, and limited access to education and job training.

These generous StrataTech scholarships directly support Fresh Start’s commitment to expand opportunities for women in nontraditional well-paying occupations, such as technology and the skilled trades,” said Kim McWaters, CEO of Fresh Start. “We know that you can lift a woman up by giving her access to education and job skills that will allow her to earn self-sufficient wages and support her family. That shift changes her life, her children, and generations to come. We are so grateful for the support and partnership with StrataTech and RSI in this life-changing work.

RSI graduate and Chas Roberts Air Conditioning technician Jenna Yost embodies the difference industry-aligned skills training can make in a woman’s life.

I was a preschool teacher for 10 years and made minimum wage, which made making every month’s bills very stressful as I was living paycheck to paycheck,” Yost explains. “Now, I’m more financially stable than I’ve ever been, and it is a relief to be able to put extra money in the bank. I also really like my job. It’s fun to surprise people when a woman shows up to fix their air conditioner.

Sissie Shank, CEO at Chas Roberts and employment partner with RSI, started working in air conditioning with her dad when she was just 14 years old.

Back then, the guys in the shop were not very open minded about a woman in the business,” Shank said. “But times have changed, and women technicians can be empathetic with our customers and sometimes better at explaining technical issues than men, especially to women customers. I’m excited about teaming up with Fresh Start and RSI in support of more women entering the air conditioning industry and coming to work at Chas Roberts.

Recently, Fresh Start was one of five organizations nationwide to receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand and expedite support to women pursuing sustainable careers in non-traditional fields, such as technology and the trades.

For more information on how to apply for a StrataTech Education scholarship at RSI through Fresh Start Women’s Foundation contact: Trinka Jones, Client Support Specialist, at [email protected] or 602.261.7144.

About Fresh Start Women’s Foundation  

Fresh Start is celebrating 30 years of supporting women in Arizona. It’s our mission to provide access and resources that help women achieve self-sufficiency and use their strength to thrive. Our ultimate vision is to create unlimited opportunities for women. Fresh Start serves over 3,000 women annually who are 18 years and older. 86% are mothers, 60% are single mothers and 64% are women of color. These women face a variety of barriers hindering their ability to be personally or financially self-sufficient, including domestic violence, generational poverty, and unemployment. Fresh Start offers focused programs, services, access to training and education, as well as employment and career services to help women reach their personal and professional goals through our Impact Program. For more information, visit or connect with us on InstagramTwitter or LinkedIn

About StrataTech Education Group

StrataTech Education Group focuses on the education, growth and development of specialized career education schools, particularly skilled-trade programs designed to address the nation’s growing infrastructure needs. Holding an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, StrataTech Education Group’s portfolio includes The Refrigeration School, Inc. (RSI) (Phoenix, AZ), Tulsa Welding School (TWS) in Tulsa, OK and Jacksonville, FL, and Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center (Houston, TX). For more information, visit

About The Refrigeration School, Inc.

The Refrigeration School, Inc. (RSI) was founded in Phoenix in 1965 and has been training students for sustainable careers for more than 55 years. Offering hands-on education with a strong emphasis on the highly sought-after skills employers seek, RSI’s programs include training in Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating Technologies, Electro-Mechanical Technologies (HVAC-R), Mechanical Maintenance Engineering, and Welding. RSI is an ACCSC accredited school and licensed by the Arizona State Board for Private Post-Secondary Education. For more information, visit or follow along on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

About Chas Roberts

Family-owned and operated for four generations, Chas Roberts continues to serve Arizona with a genuine and trustworthy approach to the Valley’s A/C, heating, and plumbing needs. For more than 75 years, and as one of the largest HVAC providers in Arizona, Chas Roberts serves both the Metro Phoenix and Tucson areas. Every Chas Roberts technician is certified and has successfully completed the rigorous Chas Roberts Customer Service Training Program on top of being licensed, bonded, and insured. This combination of expertise and family values inspires every aspect of the company’s service, from employees to customers to the community. For more information visit