WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite eight years of economic growth, too many hardworking American families cannot meet basic living expenses, even though they are employed. With a three-year, $4.5 million grant from Ballmer Group, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions will expand efforts to promote systemic changes that create greater economic mobility for thousands of low-wage workers.
At the local level, this investment will drive broad-based community efforts to increase employment advancement opportunities through improved workforce development policies, educational and training outcomes, and employer practices.
“We are excited that Ballmer Group has decided to invest in our work,” said Pete Strange, former chairman of Messer Construction, Inc. and chair of the National Fund’s Board of Directors. “This opportunity allows us to deepen our commitment to removing barriers and providing low-wage workers, especially women and people of color, the ability to become more economically mobile.”
“We believe that a good job and a career path are at the center of economic mobility and essential building blocks to achieve the American Dream,” said Jeff Edmondson, managing director of Ballmer Group. “The National Fund is helping to ensure that all local partners are working together effectively to ease paths to better employment. We can’t underestimate the challenges they face, and we believe communities across the country can learn from this groundbreaking work.”
This grant will provide four of the National Fund’s regional collaboratives with the resources to address at least one critical systemic barrier to low-wage workers’ economic mobility. For example, a collaborative could partner with a major regional employer to implement a clear, transparent career advancement program that moves a significant number of its employees into higher skilled, better-paying jobs.
“You can’t change systems overnight,” said Fred Dedrick, president and CEO of the National Fund. “Real change requires strong leadership and the ability to mobilize people around a shared vision. Our regional workforce collaboratives have that capability. Their explicit commitment to changing systems to benefit all workers can lead to significant improvements in workforce systems and business 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.
The National Fund will announce the selected collaboratives by the end of 2018.