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, such as: 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, skill training, and support services to better prepare Baltimores workforce; and analyzing performance data and directing resources to practices and programs that demonstrate effectiveness. 

Collaborative Accomplishments

BWFC has impacted systems by working to strengthen, sustain and scale up model industry workforce partnerships in target sectors. The Collaborative has also increased 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 skills necessary for employment advancement in sustainable jobs. 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 the deployment of a fund allocated for grants to support on-ramps to career pathways for disadvantaged jobseekers.

Recently, the collaborative has begun to support initiatives in the Retail/Hospitality/Food service and Green and Environmental sectors. With the direct investment of members and local and national grants, investments of over $9 million have been leveraged for effective workforce programs and policies since BWFC was created. Each partnership has a considerable track record in moving low‐wage/ low‐ skill workers into career track jobs with family sustaining‐wages. As of 2014, the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative has served over 800 jobseekers.