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Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative
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As a membership organization of funders, we are pleased to host the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative (BWFC)

 
For further information on the BWFC, please contact Linda Dworak, Director.
 
The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative (BWFC) is a public/private partnership dedicated to advancing the labor market prospects of unemployed and underemployed Baltimore City residents while meeting the needs of our region's employers for a skilled workforce.
 
 
BWFC uses several approaches to achieve these objectives:
 
• Building pathways to well-paying jobs with career advancement possibilities in targeted industries in the Baltimore area;
• Working closely with employers to align programs with real industry need for skilled workers;
• Removing barriers to work by improving education, skills training, and support services to better prepare Baltimore's workforce;
• Analyzing performance data and directing resources to practices and programs that demonstrate effectiveness; and
• Helping to strengthen policies and promote systemic changes that enhance the ability of low wage workers to advance in the local labor market.
 
 
Recent Publications:


1. Strengthening Baltimore's Workforce: Reflections and Lessons Learned 

2. A Call To Action: Creating New Opportunities for Baltimore City's Disconnected Youth 

3. Connecting Baltimore's Opportunity Youth To Careers

4. Expanding Sector Employment Opportunities for Young Adults in Baltimore 


A Focus on Target Employment Sectors
 
BWFC currently provides financial and other support to workforce partnerships that deliver industry-specific training, wrap-around support and job placement services in four industry sectors: biotechnology; healthcare; construction; and retail/hospitality/food service. These partnerships have already moved thousands of low-income city residents into jobs and careers, creating new financial security for them and their families.
 
Target industry sectors are selected based on their strength in the local economy, the availability of employment opportunities that match the skills and aspirations of unemployed and underemployed Baltimore residents, and the potential for advancement along career pathways that lead to family-supporting jobs.

 
Our Members
 
BWFC has emerged after more than a decade of work by local investors to seed and support workforce partnerships. Current members are:
 
  • The Abell Foundation
  • Alvin and Fanny B. Thalheimer Foundation
  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Bank of America
  • The Baltimore City Mayor's Office of Employment Development
  • EARN Maryland (DLLR)
  • France-Merrick Foundation
  • The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
  • OneMain Financial
  • PNC Bank
  • United Way of Central Maryland
  • Wells Fargo 
BWFC is a part of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS), 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. Since 2007, NFWS-supported workforce collaboratives have brought together over 3,000 employers to from more than 120 workforce partnerships in communities across the country. BWFC is supported though a federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant awarded to the National Fund from the Corporation for National and Community Service.
 

Sector-Based Workforce Partnerships in Baltimore
 
Together, members of the Collaborative are providing financial and planning support to four local workforce partnerships-with impressive results. These partnerships engage with employers to design and operate programs that address industry workforce needs; provide education/training, career readiness, and supportive services to low-income Baltimore City residents; and help individuals to obtain quality jobs with access to career advancement opportunities.
 

BIOTECHNOLOGY
 
The BioTechnical Institute of Maryland, Inc. (BTI) provides tuition-free training, wrap-around support and placement for laboratory technician jobs in Maryland’s rapidly expanding biotechnology industry. BTI partners with more than 30 life sciences companies in the region. Employers have helped design BTI’s curriculum, assisted with instruction, provided internships, and hired BTI graduates. BTI offers a 12-week program called BioStart to improve basic educational skills of interested participants. BioStart completers can then progress on to BTI’s nine-week Laboratory Associates occupational skills training and internship program. BTI students receive case management support provided by Catholic Charities of Baltimore.

 
A 2007 evaluation of BTI found that:
  • 80 percent of BTI’s graduates are employed after completing an internship;
  • Graduates experienced an increase of $6,661 in annual wages – or more than 60 percent – in the year after completing training.
 
Even during the economic downturn, BTI continued to place between 65 percent and 70 percent of people completing the program into industry jobs.
 

HEALTH CARE
 
The Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (BACH) creates opportunities for low-income residents to pursue healthcare careers while meeting the urgent needs of local healthcare institutions. A true collaboration, BACH brings together more than 80 partners, including healthcare employers, government agencies, educational institutions, community organizations, and foundations. These partners work closely with BACH staff to identify effective ways to meet industry employment needs and create new workforce pathways for Baltimoreans. A key focus is providing hands-on coaching for incumbent healthcare workers, which is designed to increase employee retention rates, improve job performance, and promote career advancement.

 
BACH has also supported:
  • Career "mapping” that outlines career opportunities in Baltimore hospitals and the skills and training they require;
  • A program that trains employees and job seekers who need short-term remediation before entering technical training or college level work;
  • Summer internships to give high school seniors a six-week, career-building workshop and paid work experience in hospitals;
  • A program that has aligned public high school instruction and community college curricula to give a path to achieving industry certification as surgery-technicians.
 

CONSTRUCTION
 
JumpStart, a 13 week, 87 hour pre-apprenticeship construction training program, assists low-income Baltimore City residents to become licensed construction craft workers and obtain family-sustaining incomes – while improving the area’s construction workforce. The program is overseen by the Jobs Opportunities Task Force, while the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. provides training, placement, and connections with employers, and Catholic Charities of Baltimore works with participants to resolve barriers and provide case management. Support services include but are not limited to financial coaching, legal assistance, help with child support, housing assistance and driver’s education. JumpStart focuses on job readiness skills, math instruction that will be required on the job, and hands-on skills development. The students complete three projects utilizing math, measurements, direction comprehension, and the ability to use tools of the trade. Students also receive CPR and OSHA certification. In January 2012, JumpStart incorporated a new bridge program that gives residents who struggled with the math intake exam a chance to acquire the math skills they need to enter JumpStart.

 
Even during the recession, JumpStart has achieved strong results. JumpStart continues to post strong results with 80 percent of graduates placed in jobs and a 50 percent increase from pre-enrollment wages.
 

RETAIL / HOSPITALITY / FOOD SERVICE
 
More recently, BWFC has endeavored to work in the retail/hospitality/food service sector. Preliminary research on this sector conducted by collaborative members revealed that the industry provided access to entry-level jobs to individuals with a range of barriers to employment coupled with opportunities for career advancement based largely upon positive work experience over time. BWFC has convened a workgroup consisting of a number of local workforce providers working in this sector, is participating in an assessment and development of an action plan related to food procurement by local "anchor” institutions, and is supporting the "Next Course” Culinary Arts Program, a program of Saint Vincent De Paul of Baltimore. In addition, BWFC advises Baltimore Integration Partnership, whose training fund supports an aligned retail and hospitality training program operated by Humanim.
 

Next Course
provides students with meaningful kitchen skills that allow them to work in a commercial kitchen or restaurant. Next Course replicates the innovative FareStart program based in Seattle, Washington. The model involves providing students an intensive, tiered training curriculum combined with life and employability skills and one-on-one case management support. Students’ progression through the tiers is determined by the attainment of specific skills, using a combination of written assessments, practical assessments and kitchen observations.
 
A unique aspect of the training is that it takes place in the commercial catering kitchen of KidzTable--St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore’s new social enterprise. KidzTable prepares over 8,000 meals daily using fresh, nutritious foods for children and youth in Head Start, schools, day care centers, camps and afterschool programs in the Baltimore area. Next Course students are fully immersed in the daily production of KidzTable’s catered meals providing a real-world food production environment to enhance the learning process.
 
 

For More Information
 
Contact Linda Dworak at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers by phone: 410-410-727-1205 or email: ldworak@abagrantmakers.org
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