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Investing in Opportunity

Since 2015 the Westchester Community Foundation has been building the capacity of Westchester’s workforce development networks. It has engaged experts to shed light on opportunities and challenges; convened stakeholders to create a shared approach for workforce development; attracted additional funders to the initiative; and invested in capacity-building to strengthen the countywide workforce networks.

The challenge: nonprofit workforce training programs must address multiple challenges faced by their clients: low educational attainment; lack of job skills; and the need for affordable housing, reliable public transportation, and childcare. The nonprofits must also understand economic trends so that their clients can access careers in growing sectors.

Employers are struggling to attract and retain jobseekers who are trained and prepared to succeed in the workplace.

There is little alignment between employer needs and nonprofit training programs.

The response: sector-focused training responsive to employers’ needs, undergirded with wrap around services, ensures that job seekers receive the training,  credentials, and support to be ready to work and succeed in the workplace.

The results: today, with funding support from the Foundation and funder colleagues, nonprofit workforce trainers and employers are partnering for career pathways; employers are hiring workers who are ready to work; and hundreds of job seekers have been hired for quality jobs that pay good wages in strong industry sectors

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2015

The Foundation partnered with JP Morgan Chase Global Philanthropies to support a new job training-employer partnership program at the White Plains Education and Training Center, located ground floor of The Prelude, a $42 million, 10-story building redeveloped by the White Plains Housing Authority.

Job seekers received certifications in culinary, hospitality management, healthcare, and information technology.  Important employer relationships were forged with Con Edison, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, and Wegmans Supermarket.

Today, the site is a workforce training hub specializing in IT, cybersecurity, and other products and operated in partnership with Westchester Community College.

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2017

The Foundation focuses on the opportunity gap for jobseekers in Yonkers, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, identifying limited coordination between employers and workforce development agencies, as well as among workforce development agencies themselves.

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2018

The Foundation forms the Westchester Workforce Funders Collaborative with JP Morgan Chase Global Philanthropies, MVP Healthcare, TD Bank, Webster Bank (formerly Sterling National Bank), and Apple Bank. The Collaborative begins a series of listening sessions with local employers to better understand recruitment and retention needs.

A labor market analysis is conducted by FutureWorks. The report shows declining unemployment and a moderately growing job base, but large groups of disconnected workers who remain unemployed or otherwise economically insecure. The Foundation presents the findings at a community-wide convening to foster discussion about a better workforce development network.

The Center for College and Careers at The Guidance Center launches a pilot program for young people in Mount Vernon and New Rochelle who are out-of-school and out-of-work to enter the construction industry. Over the next four years, the Center deepened its relationships with local construction firms to tailor training to their needs, and provided job search coaching and post-hiring support for training graduates.

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2019

A report by JobsFirst NYC sheds light on a significant need for comprehensive social, educational, and employment opportunities for young residents in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, and New Rochelle. The report includes key recommendations for employers, the workforce development community, and local government.

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2020

Closing the Gaps is released with a call to action for employers, community organizations and philanthropic partners to adopt a systems approach for economic development.

The Westchester Workforce Funders Collaborative awards grants to:

Westchester Community College Foundation, for the Westchester Healthcare Career Pathway Network in healthcare careers. Partners include Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Center, the Wartburg, SEIU 1199, Home Care Education Fund, Phipps Neighborhood, and the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Investment Board.

Westhab, for the Career Pathways Program in construction careers. Partners include Pro Safety Services, L and M Development Partners, and Queen City Recycling Center and FDL Management Corp.

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2021

The Workforce Professionals Training Institute creates a learning collaborative that strengthens the skills of workforce developers at eight agencies — Westhab, The Guidance Center, Jawonio, Mount Vernon Youth Bureau, the White Plains Youth Bureau, Westchester Community College, Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board, and Westchester-Putnam Career Center Network.

Over the course of a year, the cohort, called the Westchester Workforce Learning Group, builds a framework for approaching employers to create a pipeline to training and jobs for young people.

The Westchester Workforce Funders Collaborative renews support for Westhab.

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2022

The Westchester Workforce Funders Collaborative renews support for the Westchester Community College Foundation.

The Workforce Professionals Training Institute launches its phase two year with the Westchester Workforce Learning Group.

The Foundation provides seed funding to Knowledge House, a NYC based nonprofit that will provide computer skills and IT training for young people in Yonkers, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle.