WICHITA — The National Fund for Workforce Solutions has chosen Wichita to receive a $450,000 grant in order to connect low-income, low-skilled workers with career opportunities in the local aviation industry. The funds will benefit a collaborative of area funders that seeks to strengthen and expand workforce development.
The initiative is part of the National Fund’s $50 million effort to strengthen and expand workforce development around the country. The partnership addresses the workforce preparedness crisis in the United States, where more than a third of workers lacks the skills necessary to succeed in a globally competitive market. Wichita itself is facing a projected shortage of skilled workers that threatens aviation manufacturers and their suppliers, a key part of the region’s economy.
The Wichita Eagle, Sept. 27
Grant to Help Low-Income Get Aircraft Jobs
The collaborative, known as PACES, or Preparation for Aviation Employment System, received a jump start in June with a $450,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Since then, other local investors have committed matching funds, with the goal of raising at least $2.25 million over three years. Led by the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, the collaborative is supported by Spirit AeroSystems, United Way of the Plains, the City of Wichita and the local Workforce Investment Board.
Knight Foundation’s grant is part of its efforts in Wichita to connect Kansans with local opportunities to achieve economic success. So far, Knight Foundation has funded close to $4 million in workforce development programs in the area.
“It’s essential to develop our workforce at all levels if we want to keep the quality of life we enjoy here in south central Kansas,” said Anne Corriston, Knight Foundation’s program director for Wichita.
PACES, which will begin serving clients in January 2009, aims to prepare workers for educational programs at the National Center for Aviation Training now under construction.
“PACES funding will help low-income workers obtain family-sustaining employment through new careers in aviation by providing not only training, but by helping remove barriers to success,” said Keith Lawing, executive director of the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas. “These barriers may include a need for improved reading and math skills, or child care in order to attend job training.”
PACES stakeholders are meeting with community groups to discuss how to incorporate existing programs that prepare workers for technical education classes.
Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas: Keith Lawing, Executive Director, 316-771-6603; firstname.lastname@example.org
Knight Foundation: Anne Corriston, Program Director, 316-616-6157; email@example.com
About the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas
The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit business following the passage of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Its mission is to oversee the workforce development system in a six-county region serving Sedgwick, Butler, Cowley, Sumner, Harper, and Kingman counties as the lonncal Workforce Investment Board. It also operates the One-Stop Career Centers in the region.
About the John S and James L Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on ideas and projects that create transformational change. To learn more, visit www.knightfoundation.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.