Cleaning Academy offers second chance to out-of-work entrepreneurs

Small Business

Para la versión en español de esta historia, por favor oprima aqui.

Carlos Barcenas contributed to this blog.

Whether due to lockdowns or lack of customers, the coronavirus pandemic has left countless businesses closed and people without jobs. Claudia Escobedo and her husband found themselves in that situation, but they have made the best out of bad circumstances.

The couple knew they had to do something to get back on their feet, and not knowing when the pandemic would end or if their jobs would be waiting for them when it did, Claudia decided to take matters into her own hands.

After taking other training courses through the Center for Rural Affairs, Claudia knew firsthand how valuable their workshops are. She had heard of the Center’s Cleaning Academy before, and jumped at the chance to enroll when it was offered after she lost her job.

Currently, the Center offers four sector-specific academies: restaurant, construction, cleaning, and child care. The Cleaning Academy includes Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) certification upon testing out after attending the training event. Academies vary from one to three days per week, for four to eight weeks, depending on the topic. For the Cleaning Academy, participants must attend the full academy to become CMI certified.

After completing the training and course work, Claudia was ready to open her own business. She started processing the paperwork in the summer of 2020, and everything was approved and finalized by October 2020, when AC & C Cleaning officially opened for business.

AC & C Cleaning is a family-operated business, and each member of Claudia’s family helps on every job. So, not only did Claudia obtain her CMI certification through the Cleaning Academy, her oldest daughter took the cleaning courses alongside her and became certified as well. They gained many valuable skills in the process.

“Some of my biggest takeaways were how to utilize all the chemicals and cleaning products, and also not to mix them, and to have a better understanding of the type of chemicals we need to use for different surfaces or areas that we need to clean,” Claudia said. “We learned to be very careful in the cleaning work we do to prevent any falls or accidents. These courses have helped our family business thrive.”

Jessica Campos, Center for Rural Affairs Women’s Business Center director, has had a hand in designing and executing the academies, and says the goal is to to bring training opportunities into rural communities to see the impact these new and existing businesses have brought them.

“The academies bring education to entrepreneurs looking to establish a business in that sector,” said Jessica. “They develop business skills and learn what is needed to succeed in that industry, such as financials, marketing, management, regulations, and permits and licensing requirements. It has been amazing being a part of this and seeing business owners and entrepreneurs turn their ideas into a plan to be successful.”

Claudia is grateful for this opportunity, which brought her out of a bad situation and into a promising one as a business owner.

“Attending the Cleaning Academy has helped me with the knowledge of how to clean in a way that is adequate and effective in the different areas that I work,” she said. “Thank you very much for offering these types of academies. They’re helpful, and allow us to be more confident in opening our businesses and doing our jobs.”

For more information on academy availability, visit