BOSTON, MA – Proclaiming the “transformational” potential of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Damian Thorman of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation figuratively accepted the gavel as Chair of the groundbreaking effort to prepare jobseekers and workers for careers in a post-recession economy.
“This is a critical moment for the National Fund,” Thorman said. “Recently, we were awarded more than $7 million in federal funds as part of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s landmark Social Innovation Fund to expand our work in current sites and move into new sites. If ever we were going to have a significant impact on how this country helps people, especially low-income workers, build sustainable careers, now is the time.
“We’re a learning community. We pool resources – public and private – to find approaches to job training and career development that work. We are documenting the value of a dual-customer approach – employees and employers – to workforce development, showing how a strong focus on career development, and real, working partnerships with employers can help ensure that workers and employers are prepared to succeed as the recovery takes hold.”
The National Fund is one of the nation’s largest philanthropic endeavors, with ten national investors joining with more than 200 local and regional funders across 18 states, with more to come, testing local, innovative approaches to workforce development.
Twenty-four National Fund sites nationwide share a commitment to working closely with employers while helping jobseekers and employees build careers. Each site, however, takes a unique and local approach to implementing five strategic principles: 1) Create a regional funding collaborative; 2) Organize workforce partnerships; 3) Develop sector-specific approaches; 4) Build career pathways; and 5) Align regional workforce investments.
The recently released 2nd Annual National Evaluation Report revealed, for example, that the number of jobseekers who secured jobs as a result of their participation increased from 893 in 2008 to 4,058 in 2009. “We expect this number to grow over the coming two years, as we help existing sites scale up and add regional funding collaboratives in six to eight new sites in the South and Southwest,” said Fred Dedrick, Executive Director of the National Fund.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is one of ten national investors that lead the National Fund and are contributing $23.7 million to the effort, which is leveraging more than $104 million from local public and private funders. The other national investors are the Annie E. Casey Foundation; the California Endowment; Ford Foundation; JP Morgan Chase & Co.; Microsoft; The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; The Hitachi Foundation; The Prudential Foundation; and the Walmart Foundation.
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is the recipient of the 2010 Distinguished Grantmaking Award for Collaboration, bestowed by the Council on Foundations. To learn more about the National Fund, visit www.nfwsolutions.org.
To watch a brief video interview with Thorman go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5GdnpXmBzk.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. The Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
About National Fund for Workforce Solutions
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is an award-winning national initiative focused on helping low-wage workers obtain good careers while at the same time ensuring that employers have the high-quality skills that will enable them to succeed in this highly competitive economy. Since 2008, the National Fund has raised nearly $24 million to support 24 communities that have contributed an additional $104 million in locally raised resources from 216 different funding sources, including community foundations, United Ways, corporate foundations, workforce investment boards, chambers of commerce, and state agencies. Each of these communities has created local funding collaboratives that are collectively investing in more than 80 sectoral workforce partnerships. http://www.nfwsolutions.org
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.