Building a National Workforce Model


SkillWorks is a multiyear initiative to improve workforce development in Boston and in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. SkillWorks brings together philanthropy, government, community organizations and employers to address the twin goals of helping low income individuals attain family supporting jobs and businesses find skilled workers.

Phase I (2003-2008) invested $15 million to help more than 3,000 workers receive skills training with hundreds entering the workforce or receiving raises and promotions. Phase II (2009-2013) continues this important work with an added emphasis on better connecting Massachusetts’s community colleges and other post-secondary institutions to and the workforce development system. SkillWorks plans to raise $10 million for Phase II for investments in Workforce Partnerships, Public Policy Advocacy, and Capacity Building.

SkillWorks Medical Training Participant

SPI Involvement
Angel H. Bermudez, principal and founder of Strategic Philanthropic Innovations, spearheaded the development of SkillWorks when he held the position of Senior Director for Grantmaking and Special Projects at the Boston Foundation. In that role, he was able to convince the Mayor of Boston to make significant investments in SkillWorks. The City of Boston, together with the Boston Foundation, partnered with other foundations and corporations in the development of an innovative initiative to address the needs of workers and employers through a workforce partnership model.

To date, SkillWorks is the largest public/private investment in workforce development in Boston’s history and serves as the inspiration and model for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. The National Fund for Workforce Solutions now consists of over 30 different regional sites across the country. Strategic Philanthropic Innovations is contracted with a number of these sites to provide ongoing coaching services.

Strategic Philanthropic Innovation’s focus on finding an innovative, long-term, scalable approach to problems is what has set the company’s track record apart from others’. Our mission is to provide philanthropic organizations nationwide with insightful project advising in order to promote the creation of attainable goals, the sourcing of appropriate funding, and the installation and improvement of a working, replicable model. Through the use of published research and access to an extended network of experts throughout the United States, our clients are offered an in-depth analysis of what’s working and what’s not, and a strategy for moving forward.

SkillWorks’ Results Since 2003
● 13 workforce partnerships created or expanded

● 1,577 job seekers enrolled; 78% job placement rate

● 2,741 incumbent workers; 42% wage increase rate; 14% promotion rate

● Nearly $20 million raised from private philanthropy

● Over $7 million in new employer investments in workforce development

● Nearly $4 million contributed by public funders

● Over $30 million in new state funding for workforce programs secured through public policy work

● Middle Skills Solutions Act (SB 921, HB 2713); establishing a middle-skills council and the creation of regional skills academies

● An Act Improving the Educational Rewards Grant Program (SB 42, HB 977); funding to help working, part-time students attend and stay in school to earn degrees and credentials

● Youth Solutions Act (HB 2712); improving coordination and evaluating best practices of the youth workforce development system