Taking on the Eduployment Challenge

Feb 4, 2014 1:00 PM ET

The Connected by 25 Blog

Author, Chris Sturgis is founder of MetisNet and founding member of The Youth Transition Funders Group.

Is there a growing interest among funders to invest in eduployment and workforce development? I’ve been getting calls from funders who are interested in making more investments in this area recently. They feel overwhelmed by the youth unemployment crisis and daunted by how to design a meaningful intervention.

There is no doubt that this is a tough issue. The policy infrastructure is 20 years out-of-date with little to no discussion on how to upgrade it for today’s problems and technological opportunities. Patterns of institutional racism in our schools, police force, and courts has created substantial employment hurdles for young men of color. There are lots of providers, from micro-programs to strong multi-service centers and national organizations with a scattering of programs across the country. However, there certainly isn’t enough programming to fully meet the demands for eduployment. On the demand side, there is little infrastructure to engage and support employers so we aren’t tapping into all the employers who would be willing to open their doors to more opportunity for youth.

At the same time, foundations can make a difference by investing in ways that have immediate impact while also enabling programs and employers to innovate together. Capital One is doing this with their Human Capital Innovation Fund.

The Fund is designed to upgrade the workforce development system through four approaches:

  • Comprehensive, collaborative initiatives between community colleges and community-based organizations or local universities
  • Sectoral strategies that actively involve employers to provide a path to jobs with upward mobility in growth areas of the economy
  • Bridge programs that provide education, work-readiness, and case management preparatory services designed to improve skills necessary for entering and completing training programs in economic growth areas
  • Strategies that address the unique needs of specific populations within the larger low-income population (veterans, ex-offenders, young adults, women)

Grantees include: DC Central Kitchen, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, United Way of Dallas, Jobs First, The Door, and the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Capital One is also investing to build the capacity of alumnae organizations to increase career readiness and college persistence. Their emphasis is on how social media can increase connection as well as be a source for longitudinal research. More on that later.