Cliff Ragadio, a successful graduate of the BankWork$ program.CONTACT: LINDA NGUYEN, 253.254.7607 

TACOMA, WAWhat’s next? It’s the question faced by every military servicemember when they retire. It can be daunting: after 20 years with a clear career path, a built-in network and specialized training that may not seem to translate into civilian life, a servicemember can feel lost or overwhelmed.

Cliff Ragadio faced this decision early this year. He grew up in a military family and joined the Army at 19 years old. He knew he needed his next step to reflect the values instilled throughout his 20 years in the Army—values like helping people and contributing to a sense of security for individuals and families. He also knew he needed the financial capacity to help his children through college, and he wanted room to grow—a career path along which to advance.

When Ragadio read about the BankWork$ program in an email from WorkSource Washington, he knew he had found his fit. He wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time or money on a college degree, and he would be able to start work quickly in a career path with lots of opportunity for growth: 25 percent of BankWork$ graduates are promoted in their first year with an average wage increase of $4.00 per hour. Perhaps best of all, the cost of the program fit within his budget: FREE.

BankWork$ is an intensive eight-week training program administered by the YWCA of Seattle, King and Snohomish counties. The program prepares job seekers for high-demand, entry-level positions in the financial industry, careers like bank teller, customer service representative and personal banker. From these entry-level positions, employees can advance into a variety of financial services positions, including managerial positions.

The program began in Los Angeles in 2006 when its founder, Les Biller, retired from his successful career in banking. Interested in finding a way to apply his expertise and “give back” to the community in a meaningful way, he decided to tackle two of banking’s most vexing challenges: high turnover in its entry-level positions and a reputation for lacking diversity. This year, thanks to funding from WorkForce Central and a collection of local banks and credit unions, the program came to Pierce County for the first time.

“One of the key draws for this location is the Base,” said Mark Dederer, Executive Director of the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, referring to Joint Base Lewis-McCord. “Veterans have all these built-in skills to make them great at banking—they just need to learn the terminology of it.”

Retiring servicemembers like Ragadio, plus veterans and military spouses, will be the target for recruitment in the second of three program offerings in Pierce County this year. This cohort set to begin on June 26 and will be held at the USO in Lakewood. While veterans and military families will be given priority enrollment, other interested participants are encouraged to apply. A third training session will begin in September.


Graduation from BankWork$ was the culmination of a busy few weeks for Ragadio: in addition to finishing the training, his son graduated high school and he celebrated his twenty-year wedding anniversary with his wife. Upon graduating, he received several job offers, and he started work as a Bank Teller at US Bank on Monday, June 19. From here, he plans to prove himself, seek opportunities to learn more and see where his career takes him.

He also plans to play more golf.

To learn more about the BankWork$ program, visit To apply for a future training, call 253-455-3186 and leave a voicemail including name and contact information.

WorkForce Central strengthens the Pierce County economy by identifying skill gaps between jobseekers and employment opportunities, fostering data-driven decision making, and connecting workforce development partners into a cohesive, collaborative and effective network.