Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative

Baltimore, 
Maryland

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.

The Collaborative convenes public and private stakeholders who support the formation and expansion of sectoral intermediaries that coordinate financial resources and service providers to help low income residents find and keep jobs with employers who need skilled workers.

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; and,
  • Analyzing performance data and directing resources to practices and programs that demonstrate effectiveness. 
Funding Collaborative Accomplishments

For over 18 years, members of the collaborative have been coming togerher to seed and grow sector‐based workforce partnerships that can take advantage of growth opportunities for moving low and no wage workers into jobs that can lead to careers and provide family sustaining wages.  Partnerships focused on the Biotechnology, Health Care and Construction sectors were launched in the early 1990's and provide a mature set of services that meet employer needs and serve jobsseekers and entry-level incumbent workers. More recently, the collaborative has begun to support initiatives working the Retail/Hospitality/Food service and Green and Environmental sectors.  With the direct investment of members,local and national grants, investments of over $9 million have been leveraged for effective workforce programs and policies since BWFC was created.

Key features of these partnerships include: a priority on the training and placement of low‐ income City residents; strong relationships with employers to determine industry needs; and bridge programs that offer contextualized numeracy and literacy so applicants meet program entry requirements.

Each partnership has a considerable track record in moving low‐wage/ low‐ skill workers into career track jobs with family sustaining‐wages.

Through the efforts of BWFC (2006-2012):

>1000 plus incumbent workers have participated in on-the-job career coaching.

>900 plus low income and disadvantaged jobseekers have enrolled in certificate-based training

>700 plus jobseekers have earned an industry credential or degree

>Placement rates for individual programs range between 70 and 80 percent

>Programs demonstrate significant wage gains at placement and job retention and wage progression over time.

System Change Accomplishments

 BWFC has impacted systems by working to:

>Strengthen, sustain and scale up model industry workforce partnerships in target sectors;

>Advance the adoption of common performance and outcome measures across Baltimore's workforce development providers and funders to monitor and increase the effectiveness of existing investments;

>Estalbish a data users work group to increase the capacity of partner programs to collect, analyze, report and use their own data to improve program performance and participant outcomes;

>Increase public sector support for sector-focused workforce partnerships with the goal of the development of a designated revenue stream and/or sustained public funding.  With the leadership of BWFC members, the proven track record of our industry partnerships and the policy advocacy of our partner organizations (JOTF and NSC), in 2013 the State of Maryland passed the Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) Program. The EARN program will provide $4.5 million annually for "workforce training collaboratives between businesses, local government, and non profits, so that Maryland's working families have the skil necessary for employment advantacement in sustainable jobs;

>Grow our funder collaborative through the addition of new public and private investors and by building tighter alignment around a common policy and systems change agenda and a shared commitment to sustaining effective workforce partnerships, programs and strategies;

>Augment collective impact by facilitating strategic alignment and collaboration among BWFC members and among interrelated local and regional initiatives. As a member of the Opportunity Collaborative's Workforce Development Committee, BWFC is participating in the development of a Regional Workforce Plan for Baltimore and its five surrounding counties, as well as deployment of a fund allocated for grants to support on-ramps to career pathways for disadvantaged jobseekers; and

>Promote integrated city, state and federal policies and practices that are inclusive, address the needs of low-income and disadvantaged communities and create family-supporting jobs.