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Press Release

Unique PA Collaborative to Receive $600,000 from National Fund for Workforce Solutions to Boost Training Approach That Delivers Double Benefits - for Businesses and for Workers

PR Newswire

HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Fund for Workforce Solutions (PFWS) will receive $600,000 over two years from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS) to expand its innovative approach to job training and career support in the Commonwealth.

The award -- one of 10 to groups across the nation totaling $5.5 million -- is the first step in the National Fund's effort to disperse funds it received from the federal government's landmark Social Innovation Fund.

"This funding will allow us to scale up efforts to help businesses access qualified workers and get Pennsylvanians into family-supporting careers," said Tony Ross, President of the United Way of Pennsylvania, which houses PFWS.

PFWS capitalizes on Pennsylvania's workforce reform, through which the state invests in over 70 industry training partnerships connected to regional industries. PFWS ensures that more low-income workers benefit from the industry partnerships knowledge of employer skill gaps and entry requirements.

PFWS is unique among the 24 NFWS sites because it spans the state, while other collaboratives are anchored in a single metro area. A starting point for NFWS and Pennsylvania's workforce strategy is that workforce partnerships with tight connections to employers can help both employers and workers.

PFWS investors include the United Way of Pennsylvania, the Erie Community Foundation, the United Way of the Capital Region, the Pittsburgh Foundation, the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, Philadelphia's Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN), the William Penn Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, PA Partners (the association of workforce professionals), the Team Pennsylvania Foundation, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania, and the Manufacturers Association of South Central Pennsylvania.

PFWS partnership projects have placed over 200 people, helped over 300 people achieve education and training credentials, and enrolled over 1,000 people in training.  PFWS reaches additional employers and workers by sensitizing all state industry partnerships to opportunities to help low-income workers while also meeting employers' workforce needs. Since 2005, Pennsylvania industry partnerships have engaged over 6,000 employers and trained over 87,000 people.

"What makes the approach of the National Fund unique is the strong focus on two customers: the employee and the employer," said Damian Thorman, National Program Director at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Chair of the National Fund. "While implementation varies from community to community, all 24 of our sites support partnerships that forge close working relationships with employers. In Pennsylvania and elsewhere, this ensures that we are supporting training and career programs that prepare workers for jobs that actually exist as the economic recovery takes hold."

The National Fund is one of the nation's largest philanthropic endeavors, with nine national investors joining with more than 200 local and regional funders across 18 states — with more to come — testing local, innovative approaches to workforce development.

The grants announced this week represent a combination of direct funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service's Social Innovation Fund and matching funds raised from private donors. View other National Fund sites receiving grants today.

"This is a vital step in the evolution of the National Fund," said Fred Dedrick, Executive Director of NFWS. "The Social Innovation Fund is a unique collaboration between the federal government and the voluntary sector. The fact that the National Fund was one of the very first organizations selected to receive a grant through the Social Innovation Fund speaks both to the importance of our work and the potential we offer for identifying and bringing innovative solutions to scale."

About National Fund for Workforce Solutions:

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is an award-winning national initiative focused on helping low-wage workers obtain good careers while at the same time ensuring that employers have the high-quality skills that will enable them to succeed in this highly competitive economy. Since 2008, the National Fund has raised nearly $24 million to support 24 communities that have contributed an additional $104 million in locally raised resources from 216 different funding sources, including community foundations, United Ways, corporate foundations, workforce investment boards, chambers of commerce and state agencies. Each of these communities has created local funding collaboratives that are collectively investing in more than 80 sectoral workforce partnerships.

About Jobs for the Future:

Jobs for the Future, the national implementation partner of NFWS, develops, implements, and promotes new education and workforce strategies that help communities, states, and the nation compete in a global economy. In 200 communities in 41 states, JFF improves the pathways leading from high school to college to family-sustaining careers.

About the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Social Innovation Fund:

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. Its Social Innovation Fund targets millions in public-private funds to expand effective community solutions in three areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development and school support. This work will directly impact thousands of low-income families and create a catalog of proven approaches that can be replicated in communities across the country. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Fund for Workforce Solutions