Funding Focus: Workforce Development and Job Creation
The focus on Workforce Development and Job Creation is part of our overall strategy to create economic mobility for low-income residents. We know that people need living wage jobs and jobs that can turn into careers. Currently, the Richmond region faces a mismatch between available living wage jobs and the number of individuals prepared and qualified to fill them. High-demand sectors including health care, information technology, construction/trades and manufacturing/logistics have open positions that are not being readily filled. Conversely, many residents are unemployed or underemployed but require additional preparation and credentials to be eligible for these living wage positions. Additionally, regional small businesses that employ fewer than 250 people account for 99% of all businesses and 65% of overall employment¹. During the pandemic, these businesses suffered disproportionately because many were under-resourced and unprepared for the challenges they faced.
The Community Foundation is focused on solutions that link jobseekers to living wage jobs and employers to employment-ready employees, as well as programs and services that enable individuals to achieve and maintain employment, such as child care, transportation and skills training. Supporting small business owners and up-and-coming entrepreneurs, particularly those from under-represented backgrounds, is another way to create opportunity for all.
These efforts are critical to addressing the economic opportunity gap that has long been present. Systemic inequities in education and employment systems have created disadvantages for many residents, and finding ways to enhance career opportunities and financial stability for all everyone in our region will lead to a better workforce and a stronger community.
Currently, the Community Foundation’s investments center around:
- The Greater Richmond Workforce Coalition: a cross-sector coalition that includes public, private, corporate and nonprofit members and focuses on increasing access to quality jobs and reducing the gap between industry demand and worker supply. In the last year, the Coalition rolled out Network2Work, an online tool that connects jobseekers to employers with open living-wage positions. Network2Work also connects jobseekers to training and certification providers, as well as services that reduce barriers to employment.
- Nonprofits providing direct services that support job readiness: Many local organizations provide services that reduce barriers to employment, such as affordable child care, transportation, financial literacy coaching, and skill attainment.
- College-to-career programming and training/credentials: By supporting programs that expose youth to various post-secondary opportunities—community college, four-year college, entrepreneurship, or trade credentials—we hope to reduce the number of individuals who graduate from high school without a career path. Additionally, by funding the expansion of training programs for high demand jobs, more individuals will be able to achieve skills and credentials that lead to family-sustaining careers.
- Supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs: We have created the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth, which awards grants to nonprofits that support entrepreneurs and small business owners (with a focus on women and minority founders) and provide programming that teaches the entrepreneurial mindset to youth.
As a complement to the Foundation’s competitive grant process Community Foundation donors often give directly through their Donor Advised Funds to workforce partner agencies that help residents become job ready. Some of these organizations include ReWork Richmond, REAL LIFE, the READ Center and the Next Move Program, to name a few. Special funds, like the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth are also donor driven.
To learn more about how you can support workforce development and job creation in Greater Richmond, contact Dena Frith Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1) Virginia Employment Commission, "Virginia Community Profile Richmond MSA." 4th Quarter 2021 2) IPUMS USA | National Equity Atlas