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Grace Institute graduation

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Frances Green is a proud Grace Institute graduate.

"I look back on my life, every aspect, is rooted in Grace Institute and what I learned here," she said.

She is so proud that she returned to deliver the keynote address to 109 women who just completed the institute's 6-month job training program.

Rachel Szemple is one of them.

"I'm excited. I feel accomplished," Szemple said. "I've never had an opportunity like this before."

Grace Institute was founded more than 100 years ago as a tuition-free training program for immigrant women to gain job skills.

It has grown since then: 100,000 women have passed through its doors, many of them unemployed and almost half single mothers.

"We take unemployed women, give them computer and professional training," said Shari Krull, the executive director. "We guarantee that 80 percent will be placed in a full time job within one year."

Felicia Guiamara found grace after being laid off from a job she'd held for 20 years.

"After over 20 years, it was heart wrenching," Guiamara said. "It was two years and I still wasn't working."

During their time at Grace, women are trained in business and office management, while honing their computer skills.

"It helped my confidence, taught me how to manage everything," said Neomi Levy, a Grace graduate. "My typing skills are so much better."

The future is looking a lot brighter for these women who have a new sense of confidence and purpose.

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