CLEVELAND–June 17, 2014–The Fund for Our Economic Future (the Fund), a collaborative of 50 funders, including private, community and corporate foundations, higher education institutions, health care systems, businesses and others committed to advancing a growing, opportunity-rich economy for the people of Northeast Ohio, announced Friday it has awarded a $550,000 grant to support the WorkAdvance initiative. This initiative, now in its fourth year, seeks to demonstrate how an integrated delivery of workforce services tied to in-demand jobs with advancement potential can improve outcomes for individuals and employers. And it is showing encouraging results.
Towards Employment, a Cleveland-based workforce development nonprofit, leads the local implementation of WorkAdvance, a five-year program. Northeast Ohio is part of a national WorkAdvance pilot led by New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity, with additional implementation sites in New York City, and Tulsa, OK. MDRC, an education and social policy research nonprofit, leads the program evaluation.
WorkAdvance was launched through a competitively awarded White House Social Innovation Fund program and is supported through the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and their philanthropic partners. The Fund is the local funding partner for the Northeast Ohio-based initiative, which is serving employers in health care and manufacturing in Cuyahoga County and the Mahoning Valley. The program is positioned to shape policies and practices at the regional, state and national levels.
To date, 493 participants (earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level) have been enrolled in programmatic services in Northeast Ohio. Of the 271 participants placed in jobs thus far, 107 have advanced, with an average wage increase of $2.28 in Cuyahoga County and $1.43 in the Mahoning Valley. In years four and five of the program, as many as 200 additional participants are expected to be enrolled in services.
“Towards Employment is grateful to the members of the Fund for making the fourth year of WorkAdvance possible,” said Rebecca Kusner, director of the WorkAdvance initiative. “We applaud their commitment to making sure NEO businesses can grow while connecting disadvantaged Northeast Ohioans to career opportunities.”
The grant award was made by a vote of the Funders Committee, the Fund’s governing board. The Funders Committee meets quarterly to consider grants and review the Fund’s efforts to promote economic growth and equitable access to opportunity in Northeast Ohio. Since its founding in 2004, the Fund has raised nearly $100 million for improving regional economic competitiveness through pooled grantmaking, research and convening. The Fund’s efforts have helped attract and retain nearly 15,000 jobs, $550 million in payroll and nearly $3 billion in capital to Northeast Ohio. Notably, since 2010, Fund investments have directly or indirectly leveraged an additional $170 million from federal, state and national philanthropic grants to the region.
About the Fund for Our Economic Future
A funders collaborative that includes private, community and corporate foundations, higher education institutions, health care systems, corporations, and individuals, the Fund for Our Economic Future is dedicated to advancing a growing, opportunity rich economy for Northeast Ohio, a region encompassing four metropolitan areas (Akron, Canton, Cleveland, and Youngstown) and the spaces connecting them, nearly $200 billion in economic activity, and more than 4 million people.
WorkAdvance, implemented by Cleveland-based Towards Employment, is a collaboration of Northeast Ohio workforce organizations and employer partners designed to meet the needs of NEO businesses while preparing low-income, under- and unemployed individuals for careers in manufacturing and health care. WorkAdvance links social services, work readiness, academic remediation and technical training with employers and industry association representatives to provide a continuum of support that moves economically disadvantaged individuals onto career pathways in in-demand occupations. WorkAdvance partners with Compass Family and Community Services to implement the program in the Mahoning Valley. Other partners include The Center for Health Affairs, ease@work, MAGNET, Mahoning Columbiana Training Association, Ohio Means Jobs, WIRE-Net, and multiple education and training providers across the region. WorkAdvance is a sub-grantee of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a federal initiative from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) through The New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.
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