The economy is showing signs of recovery but for millions of Americans unemployment and/or low wage, dead end jobs are still a reality. Companies are apprehensive about hiring, which is keeping the unemployment rate near 10 percent — and much, much higher in many communities. Yet, one thing is certain, smart investments in human capital make companies more competitive and give hope to struggling families. We have seen this in many regions across the U. S., but we need to do much more.
Philanthropy can take the lead in crafting a nationwide response. The National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS) is a partnership involving more than 200 national and local funders. Operating in 22 regions, the National Fund helps local communities organize resources and develop a customized approach that responds to the local economy and meets the needs of local employers. However, each regional collaboration knows the critical strategies that will generate success: intensive collaboration with employers in particular sectors and a keen focus on helping jobseekers and employees develop skills and build careers.
Quite a number of NFWS leaders are coming to the Council on Foundations’ Annual Conference in Denver April 25-27 for two important reasons: we are being presented the Distinguished Grantmaking Award for Collaboration, and we believe philanthropy must be a leader in the effort to put Americans back to work. This conference is an important opportunity to encourage others to join us. Look for us, we’re ready to answer your questions.
Fred Dedrick is the Executive Director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions