National Fund for Workforce Solutions
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is an unprecedented national partnership testing new ways to address a critical problem: the large gap between the skills many workers have and the skills many employers need to compete. In 24 sites across the country, the National Fund works closely with employers and leaders from the public and nonprofit sectors to find solutions, testing how lessons learned from groundbreaking pilot projects in workforce development can be applied on a national scale. About 300 funders and 900 employers are part of this effort.
The fund’s national investors provide seed money—$23 million in commitments to date—to regions building local approaches to job training and career development. The investors also support a comprehensive evaluation of initiative activities taking place across the country, technical assistance for local partnerships, and a dynamic “national learning community” that helps those partnerships share best practices and solve problems together. The national investors are: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, The Hitachi Foundation, JPMorgan Chase and Co., the U.S. Department of Labor, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Microsoft Corporation, The Prudential Foundation, and The Walmart Foundation.
Vision, Mission, and Strategy
Workforce partnerships—new entities linking businesses and employees—have been shown to be an effective strategy for remedying this crisis. In regions and states across the country, workforce partnerships have organized key stakeholders, mobilizing service providers and securing local resources to help workers to gain the skills they need and employers to access the skilled labor they need.
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is creating a pool of $30 million or more to grow and accelerate investments in local workforce partnerships. The Fund’s investments will support local initiatives by providing financial support, technical assistance, evaluation, research, and other capacity-building services.
A key goal of the Fund is to leverage local and regional support for promising workforce partnerships. In the pilot phase of the fund, investments by national foundations in six sites generated more than $30 million in private and public investments from local sources.
Based on the achievements of the pilot sites, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions aims to:
- Leverage over $200 million in local funding, creating measurable outcomes for individuals, businesses, and workforce development systems;
- Enable sites to place 50,000 or more individuals into jobs and/or advance in their careers;
- Provide support services to 1,000 or more businesses to assist them to better recruit, retain, and advance employees into family-supporting jobs; and
- Help expand resources and improve the efficiency of workforce development systems in more than 30 regions across the United States, leading to better outcomes at lower costs—and to funding that is more sustainable.
- SkillUp Washington: Seattle, WA
- Baltimore Workforce Collaborative: Baltimore, MD
- Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative: San Francisco, CA
- Central Iowa Works Funding Collaborative: Des Moines, IA
- Dan River Region Collaborative: Dan River, VA
- Detroit and Southeast Michigan Fund for Innovative Workforce Solutions: Detroit, MI
- Front Range Workforce Funding Collaborative: Denver, CO
- Greater Cincinnati Workforce Network: Cincinnati, OH
- Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative: Washington, DC
- Job Opportunity Investment Network: Philadelphia, PA
- Los Angeles Workforce Funder Collaborative: Los Angeles, CA
- Milwaukee Area Workforce Funding Alliance: Milwaukee, WI
- New York City Workforce Innovation Fund: New York, NY
- Opportunity Chicago Collaborative: Chicago, IL
- Partners for Workforce Innovation: South Wood County, WI
- Pennsylvania Industry Partnerships Project: PA (Statewide)
- Preparation for Aviation Career Employment System: Wichita, KS
- San Diego Workforce Funders Collaborative: San Diego, CA
- Skill Up Rhode Island: Providence, RI
- SkillWorks: Partners for a Productive Workforce: Boston, MA
- The Omaha Workforce Funding Collaborative: Omaha, NE
- Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford: Hartford, CT
The current investors have committed over $22 million to the National Fund over the next five years. They are seeking additional national investments of at least $30 million.
- The Annie E. Casey Foundation
- The Ford Foundation
- The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
- The Hitachi Foundation
- John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
- JP Morgan Chase and Co.
- Microsoft Corporation
- The Prudential Foundation
- U.S. Department of Labor
- The Walmart Foundation
The Fund provides a way for foundations to engage with other field leaders to address issues not only of workforce development but also of poverty, youth development, family stability, and community development, as well economic competitiveness. The Fund’s goals include focusing on the special needs of lower-skilled, lower-wage workers and job seekers and increasing their economic mobility, strengthening families and neighborhoods in the process.
Two organizations—Jobs for the Future and the Council on Foundations—play crucial roles in implementing the Fund’s strategy. JFF is the Implementation Partner. Its responsibilities include the following:
- Provide fiscal management: JFF manages the pooled grant funds for the Fund. It provides grants management and administration, including the oversight of grant distributions, grant compliance, and internal control issues. It monitors grants and provides ongoing grant reporting.
- Manage the site selection process: JFF works with the funders to design a site selection process. It solicits applications, screens initial submissions, and develops recommendations for Investor Committee review. Once the Investor Committee has selected the sites, JFF will negotiate details of site participation in the Fund program.
- Coordinate site support and peer learning and manage external consultant contracts: JFF will coordinate technical assistance for all sites. This should include diagnosing key issues and providing dedicated, tailored support, with a primary focus on capacity improvement. Technical assistance to the sites will be provided through expert consultation, peer learning meetings, and e-learning.
- Manage research and evaluation: JFF works with the funders and external consultants to develop reporting requirements, for both ongoing performance management and evaluation. It will identify, with external consultants and sites, public policy and advocacy opportunities.
The Council on Foundations is the Leadership Partner. Its responsibilities include the following:
- Provide national attention to the urgent need for foundations to support effective preparation of America’s workforce through the Fund: COF will create new opportunities for foundation leaders to discuss the role of philanthropy in workforce investment at Council-sponsored meetings and events. It will schedule workforce planning sessions, roundtables, “investor discussions,” and plenary sessions. It also will help foundations access lessons and best practices; develop suggestions for program requirements and evaluations; and consider public policy impacts and system-reform issues.
- Help establish a working Corporate Grantmakers Advisory Board: COF works with the investors to define the board’s mission and recruit members to support the Advisory Board’s activities. It will provide strategic insights on programs and ideas to the National Fund for Workforce Solutions Investor Committee and offer suggestions on program requirements, program evaluations, public policy impacts, system-reform issues, and communications.
- Provide input and advice to the Investor Committee: Participate in meetings to offer expert advice and counsel.
- Provide support for the fundraising activities: Assist in identifying new investors.
Other national partners include Workforce Learning Strategies, the National Fund's evaluator; the National Council on Education and the Economy, which is leading the policy advocacy work of the initiative; and the United Way of America, which is supporting a cohort of its local affiliates to form regional funding collaboratives.
For more information, contact:
Maria Flynn, email@example.com, 617.728.4446
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- Employer-paid Tuition Advancement for Low-income Workers
- Working Partnerships: Advancing Careers, Addressing Employer Needs, Changing Policies
- Employer Engagement in the National Fund for Workforce Solutions
- The Origins of Regional Funding Collaboratives in the National Fund for Workforce Solutions
- Unions As Partners: Expanding the Role of Organized Labor in Workforce Development
- Workforce Partnership Guidance Tool
- The Key to Prosperity: The Skills of the American Worker
- Advancing the Frontline Health Care Workforce
- Information on Addressing Barriers to Employment for Low-Skilled Workers
- Bringing the Front Lines to the Forefront: A National Conversation on the Critical Need to Invest in Workers on the Front Lines of Health Care
- Rebuilding America's Workforce: A National Fund for Workforce Solutions Brochure
- Implementing the National Fund for Workforce Solutions: The Baseline Evaluation Report
- National Fund for Workforce Solutions: Principles and Policy Implications
- Sustaining the Promise: Realizing the Potential of Workforce Intermediaries and Sector Projects
- National Fund for Workforce Solutions: Experience and Evidence
- Exploring Rural Context and Opportunities: A Report to the National Fund for Workforce Solutions
- Strategies for Financing Workforce Intermediaries: Working Papers
- Working Toward Reinvention: SkillWorks at Three
- The National Fund for Workforce Solutions: A History of Collaboration