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Betsy Nelson: Finding career jobs for low-wage workers

It’s always inspiring to start a new year with some good news.

Just before the holidays, it was announced that Baltimore is one of 10 communities to receive a total of $5.5 million in new funding to expand innovative approaches to job training and career support from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions via the federal government’s Social Innovation Fund — a landmark effort to co-invest with private philanthropy in identifying solutions to some of the nation’s toughest challenges.

The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, will receive $600,000 over two years to add to its investments in work force partnerships that train and place formerly low-wage workers in career track jobs in biotechnology, construction, health care and food service/culinary arts.

Meeting employers’ needs

Work force partnerships bring employers and training providers together in targeted sectors to create training and career support programs that meet the needs of employees and employers.

“The highly effective work force partnerships supported by the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative are meeting the needs of our region’s employers while training and placing formerly low-wage workers in jobs that can support their families and lead to a career — even in this difficult economy,” said Marci Hunn of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, a co-chair of the Baltimore Funders Collaborative.

Along with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, other members of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative include the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, the Abell Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose associate director for civic sites and investments, Patrice Cromwell, joins Hunn as co-chair.

Dollar-for-dollar match

In the press release that accompanied the announcement of the award, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake noted that she “was extremely proud to receive word that Baltimore had been selected as one of the first recipients of a Social Innovation Fund award.”

The Social Innovation Fund award establishes a dollar-for-dollar match from the Living Cities Integration Initiative for work force training announced as part of a larger award to Baltimore several months ago. Staff and logistical support for the Collaborative comes from the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

We are particularly proud to have received this grant because the Social Innovation Fund is an innovative new federal funding source that addresses major challenges confronting communities by growing high-impact nonprofit organizations delivering proven solutions.

To learn more about the Baltimore Workforce Funding Collaborative, visit www.abagrantmakers.org/?page=BWFC.

Betsy Nelson, President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, writes every other week for The Daily Record.  She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or [email protected]