The National Network of Sector Partners (NNSP), a project of the Insight Center, supports the visioning, planning, and implementation of regional workforce funder collaboratives. These collaboratives support sector initiatives by bringing public and private funders together to expand and coordinate funding and make strategic investments in sector initiatives. They add flexibility to restricted public-funding streams, develop funder commitment and expertise in sector workforce development, and target systems change that benefits workers and employers over the long run.
NNSP played a key role in developing the Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative, the first such collaborative in California. Launched in 2004 through a partnership of 14 philanthropic foundations and the California Employment Development Department, the collaborative has gained national attention. We staffed the collaborative’s initial activities and helped to expand its investments, establish governance and management structures, deepen its knowledge of low-income workers and employers in the healthcare and biotech industries, facilitate development of a policy strategy, and produce requests for proposals.
By 2007, the Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative has conducted two grant-making cycles and distributed $6.5 million to 20 workforce development, innovation, and policy projects. California’s Employment Development Department expressed interest in expanding this model into other regions and worked with NNSP to develop a policy approach. In 2006, California’s Labor Agency targeted $3.9 million to match other investments in regional workforce funding collaboratives.
We have also supported the development of collaboratives in three California regions: Los Angeles, San Diego, and the San Joaquin Valley. Key partners include The California Endowment, San Diego Workforce Partnership, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, and the Fresno Regional Foundation. We assist these partners to obtain commitments from other funders, seek matching funding from the California Labor Agency, and conduct strategic planning and implementation. In 2007, two sites were awarded funding from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. Beginning in 2007, the National Fund expects to engage approximately $200 million in funding over five years from foundations, the public sector, and businesses to help 50,000 or more individuals throughout the U.S. to gain jobs and/or advance in their careers.