Four Philadelphia organizations awarded $1M grant to advance equitable workforce development

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The City of Philadelphia announced Wednesday the Workforce Respond and Recharge 2021 Commitment, a renewed strategic commitment to address workforce challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by racial inequity.

“During the past year, the pandemic, unemployment crisis, and civil unrest from our country’s racial reckoning have affected all residents, but the challenges we face today are also an opportunity to change course and work harder to deliver true equity for all Philadelphians,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

In partnership with Philadelphia’s economic and workforce development partners PIDC and Philadelphia Works, the City also announced an investment of $1 million through the Workforce Solutions Grant. It will be divided amongst four organizations that will identify, elevate, and address the specific challenges Black residents and residents of color face when preparing for and entering the workforce.

“The city looks forward to working with the organizations doing critical work in identifying short- and long-term solutions to the many challenges that face our workforce in the difficult months ahead,” Kenny continued.

Drexel University’s Goodwin College of Professional Studies was awarded $246,000 and will use the funds to launch a Manufacturing Career Accelerator Program to create access to manufacturing careers for low-skilled adults in Philadelphia.

The Urban League of Philadelphia was awarded $253,763 and will use the funds to expand their Urban Tech 3.0 program. In 2018, ULP partnered with JobWorks, Inc., a national workforce development organization, to adapt its TechWorks program model to support ULP’s strategic priorities around information technology workforce diversification.

The Philadelphia Energy Authority was awarded $250,000 and will use the funds to develop and launch the new Green Retrofit Immersive Training Program. The program includes an 11-week hybrid training with hands-on labs, a six-week internship rehabilitating affordable housing units, and placement into living wage jobs with contractors performing green home retrofits.

Educational Data Systems, Inc. was awarded $250,000 and will use the funds to develop a new Multi-Generational Program, to address the needs of both children and parents, which will provide training and assistance to parents to obtain employment at a minimum of $13.25 an hour for a full-time job.

The Workforce Solutions Grant is one piece of the city’s overall Workforce Respond and Recharge 2021 Commitment, which will utilize several organization and program partnerships to foster sustainable, living-wage jobs.

Main goals of the initiative are to bring the City’s unemployment down to January 2020 levels, which were historic lows of Philadelphia, and decrease racial and ethnic disparities in unemployment. The City and its partners plan to achieve these goals by directly connecting residents to employment opportunities now by investing in the Workforce Solutions Grant, engaging targeted employers, and utilizing the PA CareerLink Philadelphia System and PIDC’s Navy Yard Workforce Development Initiatives.

Additionally, the city and its partners want to position Philadelphia as a talent hub for future prospects by expanding industry partnerships, implementing career connected leaning, investing through the PHL Most Diverse Tech Hub Initiative, and utilizing the Philadelphia Skills Forward Initiative.

“The past year has been incredibly difficult for workers and has elevated crucial discussions about the future of work, which is why the city remains committed to helping prepare Philadelphia residents for careers that can sustain families while bridging the gap between employers, workforce providers, and residents to foster a thriving, equitable workforce full of opportunity,” said Michael Rashid, Commerce Director for the City of Philadelphia.