National Fund Promotes Economic Mobility for Low-wage Workers

by | Jan 17, 2019

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions Supports Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Syracuse in Effort to Promote Economic Mobility for Low-wage Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 17, 2019) – Today, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions announces that it is awarding nearly $2.4 million to four regions—Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Syracuse—to address at least one critical systemic barrier to low-wage workers’ economic mobility. Despite eight years of economic growth, too many hardworking American families cannot meet basic living expenses, even though they are employed.

The three-year investment, made possible by the Ballmer Group, will drive broad-based community efforts to increase employment and advancement opportunities through improved workforce development policies, educational and training outcomes, and employer practices. The data and learning that come from this initiative will allow the National Fund to help other communities overcome local barriers to inclusive economic advancement and promote economic security for more American households.

“People say it’s the system that gets in the way. Well, a lot of times that’s true,” said Janice Urbanik, senior director of innovation and strategy at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. “These grants will help four U.S. regions tackle different systems—transportation, data collection, federally-funded workforce development—in order to ease the path to economic mobility for more low-income Americans, especially those who have been historically excluded from opportunities.”

Chosen from among nineteen applicants, the selected communities will develop innovative approaches tailored to their labor market and regional economy.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta CareerRise will expand access to services to individuals from high-need areas, working in partnership with the five metro Atlanta Workforce Development Boards. To ensure more equitable access to services, the project will determine how and where services are deployed across the entire region, develop uniform eligibility requirements and application process, and increase participation of nonprofit providers to deliver services in the community.

Baltimore, Maryland

The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative will address inequity and economic immobility using four concurrent, interrelated strategies. The collaborative will develop and implement shared data systems that disaggregate data by demographic characteristics including race and gender, establish a community of practice to support the implementation of concrete racial equity strategies, and advocate for local and state policy reforms that address fundamental obstacles to economic mobility. Finally, the collaborative will champion and grow businesses that commit to employment practices that are good for their businesses and their employees.

Cleveland, Ohio

The Fund for Our Economic Future will test innovations in transportation to help individuals connect to jobs and help companies access the talent they need to compete. While a growing challenge nationally, the decline in access to jobs in Northeast Ohio is among the steepest in the country. Together with partner organizations, the Fund will test new transportation models that target specific neighborhoods and specific businesses offering good jobs. The goal is not only to facilitate equitable improvements in economic mobility, but also to guide future public policy and public and private investments.

Syracuse, N.Y.

The Work Train Collaborative will identify public policies and private investments that reduce concentrated poverty and inequality and bring more low-income individuals into financial stability and self-sufficiency. By aligning government leadership, economic development, and workforce development, Work Train will focus specifically on Syracuse’s tech and construction industries to increase equitable economic mobility for people currently and historically disconnected from opportunities in these industries and the economy in general.

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About National Fund for Workforce Solutions

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is a national network promoting economic opportunity and prosperous communities through investment and innovation.  Based in Washington D.C., the National Fund partners with philanthropy, employers, workers, public and private community organizations, and more than 30 regional collaboratives to invest in skills, improve systems, and generate good jobs. The National Fund supports civic and business leaders in promoting evidence-based practices and policies that build shared prosperity. Learn more about the National Fund and its local partners at

About Ballmer Group:

Ballmer Group supports efforts to improve economic mobility for children and families in the United States who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty.