In 2016, Communities Foundation of Texas, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and JPMorgan Global Philanthropy set out to help local, community-based workforce development organizations build their capacity for learning — including the use of data to enhance results for those they serve.
More than 20 organizations from the DFW area completed a national workforce benchmarking survey through the Workforce Benchmarking Network (WBN). The WBN survey is an initiative of Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW), and is designed to connect best practices from more than 500 community-based workforce providers across the nation with local strategies that will deepen the capacity and increase the impact of these vital programs in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
The findings from the benchmarking survey revealed that participating DFW workforce programs were more likely than their national counterparts to offer non-workforce development programming (e.g., housing, food or emergency assistance, domestic violence shelter and counseling, re-entry counseling for incarcerated persons, etc.)
Offering multiple services is important because the region’s community-based nonprofits — often the entry point for low-income, low-credentialed people seeking assistance — work hard to help their clients access further training and entry-level jobs that are on a pathway to family-sustaining careers. In addition to the overall regional survey results, participating DFW agencies learned how their workforce practices aligned with their national peers, alongside areas for improvement. Agencies received targeted training through quarterly peer learning forums, facilitated by the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce.
In 2018, the DFW Workforce Collaborative added one year of targeted technical assistance to interested organizations to target specific data collection and performance challenges such as employer engagement and participant follow-up and retention. The agencies participated in quarterly peer learning forums.
What’s Next: Economic Mobility Leadership Academy
The Economic Mobility Leadership Academy builds on the work of the DFW Workforce Collaborative and the capacity-building work provided since 2016. The objective is to expand the network of leaders to develop local strategies that both advance more equitable opportunities for low-wage workers as well as meet local talent development needs for long-term economic competitiveness. The academy will incorporate a systems-change framework to help leaders begin to identify and address systemic issues such as:
- Systems-thinking, sector strategies and leadership for change
- Race, ethnicity, gender, equity in the labor market
- Working with employers to raise the floor of salaries and build career ladders
- Working with workers to access a continuum of services and supports
- Organizational capabilities and partnerships
The Economic Mobility Leadership Academy will be open to applications from the organizations that have participated in the DFW Workforce Collaboration activities as well as other business, civic, education, nonprofit and workforce organizations in the Dallas area. Check back in January 2019 for important dates and deadlines.