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Federal Grant to Strengthen Northeast Ohio’s Talent Development Efforts Awarded to Towards Employment; WorkAdvance Funding Will Support Regional Training Programs in Healthcare and Manufacturing Sectors

Federal Grant to Strengthen Northeast Ohio’s Talent Development Efforts Awarded to Towards Employment; WorkAdvance Funding Will Support Regional Training Programs in Healthcare and Manufacturing Sectors

Fund for Our Economic Future assisted region’s participation in multi-community collaborative effort and provided grant match

CLEVELAND--April 5, 2011--The Fund for Our Economic Future announced today that its regional partner Towards Employment will launch WorkAdvance, a sector-focused career advancement collaborative workforce development program, with support from the Social Innovation Fund, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the Fund for Our Economic Future. 

In July 2010, the region joined a collaboration led by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) that was awarded a $5.7 million grant by the Social Innovation Fund, a new initiative of the federal Corporation for National & Community Service. The Fund for Our Economic Future organized Northeast Ohio’s participation in the grant and has committed up to $860,000 in support of the first year of program implementation. 

“Towards Employment developed a workforce program that is both innovative and collaborative – two attributes central to Northeast Ohio’s economic revitalization,” said Fund President Brad Whitehead. “Training and retaining talent regionally and connecting talent with employers ultimately improve the economic future of our residents and region.”  

The Fund and its national partners, CEO, the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, and the research and evaluation firm MDRC, selected the collaborative led by Towards Employment based on its close connections with employers in two important growth sectors in Northeast Ohio: healthcare and manufacturing.

“We are pleased to work with Towards Employment and the Fund for Our Economic Future on WorkAdvance,” said Veronica M. White, executive director of CEO.  “By working together on this initiative, we will develop new talent to support growth sectors and demonstrate the potential of sector-based approaches.”

Towards Employment will lead manufacturing and healthcare programs across the region working closely with partners in Cuyahoga County and Mahoning County. The programs will serve both employed and unemployed low-wage workers with a goal of connecting workers to jobs with career tracks so that the participants, with on-going assistance, have the opportunity to advance in their careers.

“By providing the necessary high level of training, tools and continuous support to its participants, WorkAdvance will help close the skills gap between those seeking work and available jobs, benefiting the region’s employers,” said Jill Rizika, executive director of Towards Employment. “We’re excited to launch WorkAdvance and are looking forward to further contributing to the economic improvement of our region through developing a skilled and motivated workforce.”

Towards Employment developed a regional network of collaborators so that innovations developed under WorkAdvance can be spread and shared across the region. Collaborators by sector include: 

Manufacturing Towards Employment Program Collaborators In Cuyahoga County, Towards Employment will partner with: Employment Connection, WIRE-Net, MAGNET, the Center for Families and Children and The Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland. In Mahoning County, the lead partner will be Burdman Group Inc. along with the Mahoning and Columbiana Training Association (MCTA), Mahoning County One Stop, Kent State University/Trumbull Campus and the Business Resource Network.

Healthcare Towards Employment Program CollaboratorsCuyahoga County partners will include Northeast Ohio Health Science and Innovation Coalition (NOHSIC), the Center for Families and Children and Employment Connection. In Mahoning County, Towards Employment’s lead partner is the Burdman Group Inc., along with the Mahoning and Columbiana Training Association (MCTA), Mahoning County One Stop, Kent State University/Trumbull Campus and NEO HealthForce.

Consulting firm enlight advisors will assist with the coordination of the collaboration and the sharing of innovations. MDRC will partner with a local institution to conduct the rigorous research and evaluation that will serve as the evidence base on which to spread and scale the initiative.

The federal grant was one of 11 inaugural grants of the Social Innovation Fund, which was created to help communities work together to expand, test and maximize the impact of innovative anti-poverty programs. 

Other communities that joined the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and CEO to apply for the grant are Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Newark, N.J.; San Antonio, Texas; Savannah, Ga.; and Tulsa, Okla.

The Fund for Our Economic Future is a collaboration of philanthropy that supports Advance Northeast Ohio, the region’s economic competitiveness agenda. The agenda is focused in four areas: business growth, talent development, racial and economic inclusion, and government collaboration and efficiency.

The Towards Employment WorkAdvance Program is part of the Fund’s broader talent network called NEO@Work comprised of workforce development stakeholders focused on serving low-skilled and hard-to-employ residents in the region. The network will share best practices, identify and expand effective programs that move clients into career paths, and advocate for state and federal policy changes.

In addition to the federal support and the Fund’s match grant, the Fund also attracted a $500,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation, based in New York City, and a $20,000 grant from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation to support NEO@Work.

For additional information, visit www.futurefundneo.org or www.nationalservice.gov.

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ABOUT THE SOCIAL INNOVATION FUNDThe Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a new public-private investment vehicle established by the 2009 Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, is designed to fund effective and potentially transformative portfolios of nonprofit community organizations to help them strengthen their evidence base, and replicate and expand to serve more low-income communities; identify more effective approaches to addressing critical social challenges and broadly share this knowledge; and Develop the grantmaking infrastructure necessary to support the work of social innovation in communities across the country.

ABOUT THE CENTER FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITYCreated in 2006, the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity has piloted and evaluated dozens of innovative anti-poverty programs in support of the working poor, disconnected youths and families with young children.

ABOUT THE FUND FOR OUR ECONOMIC FUTUREThe Fund for Our Economic Future (www.futurefundneo.org) is a collaboration of more than 100 foundations, organizations and philanthropists from across Northeast Ohio that strengthens the region’s economic competitiveness through grantmaking, public engagement and research.

ABOUT TOWARDS EMPLOYMENTTowards Employment (www.towardsemployment.org) is a non-profit organization that has assisted over 100,000 disadvantaged adults in Greater Cleveland successfully transition from poverty to a paycheck. Offering training and a range of wraparound supports, Towards Employment prepares people to meet local employer needs. 

Contact:

Molly JohnsonFund for Our Economic Future216.456.9806 (office)mjohnson@futurefundneo.org