Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Low-Income Job Seekers to Get Neighborhood-Based Assistance IPIC to direct CDBG funds to support barrier-busting workforce services

Mayor Greg Ballard today announced a portion of the City’s share of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding totaling about $600,000 will be directed to more effectively serve low-income job seekers through existing neighborhood-based organizations beginning in January.

The Indianapolis Private industry Council (IPIC) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) this month to identify community-based organizations that will connect unemployed and chronically underemployed low-income residents with career pathways aligned with Indianapolis’ growing economic sectors of life sciences, information technology, logistics, advanced manufacturing, and motorsports.

“Local organizations who are already serving this population with related support services will receive a boost in funding and, equally important, resources and experts from Indianapolis’ three WorkOne offices to better train, place, and help retain in the workforce our low-income citizens,” said Mayor Ballard.

Federally funded workforce development services are currently delivered through the WorkOne offices of Marion County. These large offices have high client traffic and are better equipped to assist individuals with few barriers to employment, according to Brooke Huntington, President and CEO of IPIC.

“We have learned that the most successful employment programs that facilitate long-term job retention and career advancement emphasize all or a combination of job-readiness training, basic skills development, and vocation-specific skills development,” said Huntington. “Therefore, we believe that citizens with significant employment barriers can be more effectively served in a more personalized environment, through community-based organizations already engaged in barrier-busting workforce development activities.”

The new initiative will strengthen the connection between community-based organizations, neighborhood-level programs, and the WorkOne offices of Marion County to ensure assistance to low-income job seekers. In conjunction with the CDBG funding, IPIC will leverage federal workforce funding to bring employment services and case management support to the selected organizations on a regular basis. The program also strengthens the capacity and capability of workforce-serving community-based organizations to receive and administer highly regulated federal workforce development funds.

Over the past 15 years, employment and training programs have evolved beyond solely job placement into more comprehensive workforce development initiatives that often focus on longer-term outcomes such as labor market retention, career advancement, family self-sufficiency, and economic development, according to Bill Taft, Executive Director of Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Chair of IPIC’s Neighborhood Workforce Development Committee.

“We know that workforce development strategies fail when they are not comprehensive, and we know that supportive service programs are most successful when they are tied to full-time work in the labor market or when service delivery is accompanied by job search requirements,” said Taft.

Using CDBG funds, IPIC will fund community organizations that:

• Provide workforce development services such as job-readiness training and vocational skills training for entry level and low income workers;

• Provide educational services such as basic education, ESL training, and GED training;

• Provide supportive services that enhance job placement and retention outcomes;

• Demonstrate an interest in expanding community partnerships to better meet the comprehensive needs of their clients;

• Will enter into a performance-based agreement with IPIC that requires outcome tracking and reporting; and

• Demonstrate an interest in working collaboratively with and receiving technical assistance from IPIC and WorkOne staff to enhance organizational capacity to meet employment-focused outcomes.

Two different categories of awards will be made:

Category 1, which qualify for a grant of $75,000-$100,000: Organizations with a history of successfully offering a range of workforce development services for hard-to-serve populations. These organizations have the existing staff resources and infrastructure as well as employer networks to deliver a robust solution that includes neighborhood partnerships and innovative workforce development strategies.

Category 2, which qualify for grants of $20,000: Organizations with a history of successfully providing one or more components of a comprehensive workforce development program. This may include intensive employment-based case management, employer network development and job placement facilitation, and/or targeted pre-employment training.

“Creating a pipeline of job-ready candidates requires that we enlist organizations with strong community connections, effective outreach and recruitment services, comprehensive assessment tools, high quality supportive service delivery, and partnerships with employers,” said Huntington.

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