Walmart recently expanded its Community Academy to its Peoria store near Grand Avenue and Cotton Crossing.
The academy offers free classes to the public, and registration is open, according to Andy Trainor, Walmart’s vice president of U.S. learning.
The Community Academy offers a wide variety of courses in areas such as resume building, personal finance, college admissions, car and home purchasing, test preparation and natural disaster preparedness. Anyone interested in registering for classes through Walmart’s Community Academy can do so online.
Trainor said Walmart is “trying to continue to listen to local communities” and offer courses that residents in those individual areas need.
“I think ideally we would try to offer it everywhere we can, so as many locations in stores as possible,” Trainor said. “I think it’s also really understanding the needs of the local community, so classes we offer in one location might be slightly different than another based on the needs of that community.”
He said this is part of Walmart’s effort to “be more than just a place to shop.” It wants to be involved with the community.
Classes are only being offered virtually because of the pandemic, but Walmart is planning to offer these courses in person as soon as it is safe to do so.
Once they are offered in person, classes will take place using the same facilities and resources used to train Walmart associates.
Walmart’s Community Academy is offered at more than 200 locations across the country, according to Trainor. Aside from Peoria, the class is held in Mesa, Oro Valley, Prescott Valley and Gilbert.
He said that each academy can support about 15 to 25 stores. Annually, Walmart determines if more academies are needed. One location was built last year in Florida, and another will be constructed in Indianapolis.
Trainor said these classes were originally only offered to Walmart associates. Last year, Walmart opened the program to friends and family of associates and is now open to all customers.
He said Walmart wanted to expand the program because it yearned to show its appreciation for customers.
“This is a way for us to really not only appreciate our customers and our communities but really help everybody grow and try to fill some of this educational void that we’ve seen here in the last year,” said Trainor.
“It’s become more apparent this is our way of trying to help fill that gap and help everyone achieve the success they deserve.”
He mentioned that these programs are also aimed at addressing bigger issues in society.
“There’s a gap in opportunity in certain communities to get the skills they need for future life, future jobs or just to move on in their careers, so this is a way for us to help bridge that gap and provide cost-free training opportunities to learn about things they have an interest and desire in or need to learn,” he said.
Trainor said Walmart hopes to continue to expand the program.
“This is really an effort for Walmart to help improve the lives of our customers and just give back to our community,” Trainor said. “It’s a really sincere effort to help fill this educational gap that’s become more apparent, and we’ll continue to grow it.”