While America’s slow economic recovery continues and Washington policymakers grasp at ideas to drive down joblessness and drive up growth, philanthropy is doing its part to address the jobs challenge. That was the message conveyed by several sector leaders to members of Congress, their staffs, and workforce policy leaders during a congressional briefing last week.
With assistance from Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio), chair of the House Philanthropy Caucus, the briefing discussed how innovative philanthropy-led public/private partnerships are helping low-wage and disadvantaged workers secure skills training and good-paying jobs while helping employers find the high-quality workers they need. Timed to coincide with a meeting of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS), the briefing was part of the ongoing series of Council on Foundations Capitol Hill events designed to bring additional attention to the impact of philanthropy in our communities.
Presenters included Bob Giloth, vice president of the Center for Family Economic Success and Community Change at The Annie E. Casey Foundation; Susan Crane of the Seattle Foundation and executive director of SkillUp Washington; Kelly Lucas, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of South Wood County in Wisconsin; Ross Meyer, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Workforce Network in Ohio; and Pete Strange, chairman of Messer Inc. in Cincinnati. The Council’s Stephanie Powers, managing director of the Public-Philanthropic Partnership Initiative, served as moderator. Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Chaka Fatah (D-Penn.)-whose districts both house NFWS sites-also attended.
There were a number of key takeaways from the briefing:
The briefing was especially timely in light of the ongoing deliberations by the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee around reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act and President Obama’s recently announced manufacturing jobs initiative.
There was no doubt that everyone left the briefing with a clear sense that public-philanthropic partnerships are stepping up and helping fuel the economic recovery. But, it’s only part of the solution. We’re not out of the woods by any means, but we do know that these kinds of innovative workforce development approaches have put us on the right path to a brighter, stronger economy.
Conaway B. Haskins III is the project director for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, a Public-Philanthropic Partnership of the Council on Foundations