Having access to job training and skill building through a workforce development program is one of the best ways to break the cycle of poverty that can keep generations of families and communities from building lasting wealth and economic security. Workforce development programs build people’s knowledge, skills, and abilities through technical training and job skills coaching—and it’s a critical component of any economic development strategy that builds meaningful and lasting change.
Since 2008, the Greater Washington Workforce Collaborative (a project of the National Capital Area Community Foundation) has invested in building the DC region’s workforce development infrastructure. Funded by a coalition of leading philanthropies—including Consumer Health Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Kaiser Permanente, the Meyer Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and the Washington Area Women’s Foundation—the Collaborative has a shared vision for a Metropolitan Washington region where every individual has the opportunity to realize their potential, secure a family-sustaining job, and both benefit from and contribute to our regional economic prosperity.
In December 2016 the Collaborative announced a new and highly competitive grant program called Greater Washington Works. The program supports new investments in local industry partnerships in Healthcare and IT/Cybersecurity. The Collaborative plans to invest up to $1 million in these partnerships and related work over the next two years.
At Spark Point, we have a commitment to equity, and we work with several incredible organizations that empower others through workforce development programs. Just three short months after the launch of Greater Washington Works, two of Spark Point’s clients—Byte Back and SOME Center for Employment Training—submitted proposals to build new industry sector partnerships and expand their reach beyond the borders of Washington, DC. This program came at a perfect time for both organizations, as they are both on the cusp of significant growth. Byte Back is moving into a new, state-of-the art headquarters in July 2017, and they will soon be undertaking an extensive scaling effort. And in 2018, SOME CET is moving into the new Conway Center, doubling their capacity to serve students.
Out of three Greater Washington Works grants awarded, Spark Point clients Byte Back and SOME CET received two of them—$200,000 each over two years. Being selected as a Greater Washington Works grantee is not just about getting more support for programs. It’s a recognition of the powerful impact that each of these organizations has already achieved in the DC workforce development field. Congratulations to Byte Back and SOME CET! We are so excited to have been part of this process and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.
More information about this initiative at Greater Washington Works.