The NRF Foundation announced that it has brought together dozens of retailers and non-profits to launch RISE Up (Retail Industry Skills & Education), a groundbreaking new training and credentialing initiative designed by the retail industry to help people—regardless of education, background, economic means or age—acquire the skills they need to secure jobs in retail and advance into promising careers. From in-store to digital and mobile commerce, RISE Up is designed to build competencies and pathways for the workforce of the future. To date, 21 companies have come together to pledge their support for building the next generation of the retail workforce, including Ashley Stewart, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Brooks Brothers, The Container Store, Disney Store, The Home Depot, HSNi, The Kroger Co., L.L.Bean, Lowe’s Companies Inc., Macy’s, Neiman Marcus Group, Pilot Flying J, Target, Tractor Supply Company, Under Armour, Vera Bradley, Walmart, The Wendy’s Company, White Castle and Williams-Sonoma Inc.


“Good jobs change lives, and retail doesn’t just provide first jobs, but opportunities for lifelong careers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “RISE Up helps the people who need it the most, and helps retailers address recurring talent challenges—including reducing the time needed to hire and train new associates and decreasing turnover.”


RISE Up begins with Retail Industry Fundamentals, a 15-module formal training program for entry-level retail associates in distribution centers, call centers or stores. It will give people a wide array of knowledge in areas like retail tools and technologies, customer service, retail math, inventory and interview skills. The training can be delivered in the classroom—or online—to people of all backgrounds, ages and education levels. Upon successful completion of an exam, these learners will not only walk away with a credential for their resumes, but also the skills and confidence to take the first step toward a successful career. RISE Up is available through non-profit and public education partners, and can also be used directly by retail companies to train and advance existing employees.


“The retail industry’s greatest asset is the energy and talent of its workforce, and RISE Up will give more people the skills and knowledge they need to start successful careers in this dynamic field,” said Mindy Grossman, HSNi CEO, outgoing NRF Foundation Board Chairman and incoming NRF Board Chairman. “RISE Up is a first-of-its-kind, industry-led solution that will help bridge the skills gap between job seekers and the diverse opportunities offered by a career in retail, and I am proud to be a part of this game-changing initiative.”


Over the past 18 months, the NRF Foundation has worked with dozens of retailers, non-profit partners and foundations to build Retail Industry Fundamentals, which ensures that the skills and training it provides meet industry needs, and that the materials created are user-friendly for non-profit and education partners. Initial funding for the development of RISE Up was made possible by a capacity-building grant from the Walmart Foundation.


What some of the stakeholders are saying:

The Kroger Co.
Tim Massa, Group Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Relations of The Kroger Co.: “Digitization isn’t just changing the retail industry, it is changing society. And at a time when we have six different generations in the workplace, equipping all associates with the next-generation skills they need to continue growing both personally and professionally has never been more important. Kroger is proud to support the NRF Foundation’s RISE Up initiative.”


Pilot Flying J
Mark Rowan, Chief People Officer of Pilot Flying J: “Pilot Flying J stands with the NRF Foundation and partner retailers in their commitment to building the next generation of the retail workforce through the RISE Up program. With more than 27,000 team members across North America, we understand the importance of developing skilled retail workers. They are the front line in serving our guests and customers, and they are our greatest asset. The retail industry provides job stability and consistency, fair pay and benefits, long-term career opportunities and satisfying, rewarding work. RISE Up will help develop skilled workers and connect them with promising careers in retail.”