Creating a National Model: SkillWorks Boston and The National Fund for Workforce Solutions

In 2003, SPI's founder, Angel Bermudez, spearheaded a Boston-based workforce development initiative, called SkillWorks. In just a few years, the initiative raised over $7 million to invest in partnerships between local employers, training programs, and job seekers. The success of SkillWorks was so great that it inspired the Ford Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Hitachi Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor, and others to set up a $50 million national fund to undertake SkillWorks-like activities in cities across the country. Thus, in 2007, The National Fund for Workforce Solutions was created. SkillWorks established itself as the benchmark for how other workforce development initiatives are measured in terms of dollars raised, funds leveraged, employers engaged and served, and impact made in the lives on individuals.

The NFWS is an unprecedented initiative of national and local funders, whose goal is the career advancement of low-wage workers using a model of substantial employer engagement to increase the potential for successful outcomes. The NFWS was established as a funding intermediary by the Casey,Ford, Hitachi and Weinberg Foundations, with support from the U.S. Department of Labor, to strengthen and expand high-impact workforce partnership initiatives across the country.

Today, the National Fund supports regional funding collaboratives in 30 communities across the country. Together, they organize industry partnerships to develop a pipeline of skilled workers to meet the needs of employers and promote improvement to business practices and public policies that lead to better career opportunities for our nation's workers and jobseekers. Funder collaboratives act as catalysts for generating additional investments in creating sectoral workforce partnerships, training workers, and improving workforce practices.

Click the links below to view full project descriptions.

SkillWorks: Generated over $7 million in new employer investments in workforce development. This initiative, which began in Boston in 2003, is now a working national model, replicated in 32 cities nationwide.
Atlanta CareerRise: Generated over $2.1 million since 2012, while partnering with 6 hospitals and 3 workforce boards, to bring talent to the fastest-growing, skilled occupations in healthcare.
SkillBuild Colorado: Created 11 workforce partnerships throughout the region, and prompted legislation that seeks to address this skills gap and meet the demand for skilled workers by requiring the Colorado Department of Labor to share information on job openings with workforce training programs, colleges, and vocational schools.
CareerWorks Newark: Raised over $2.2 million to award grants to local training programs and advance the fastest-growing local sectors: healthcare and transportation, logistics, and distribution.
CareerEdge Sarasota: Created workforce leadership council and pioneered a new forum, with invited guests from two chambers, four economic development agencies, six educational institutions, and numerous elected officials.