UCD Selected as Win-Win Challenge Grant Recipient by Job Opportunity Investment Network

The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) | Job Opportunity Investment Network Grant

The Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN) has selected University City District (UCD) to receive a $300,000 two-year implementation grant through its Win-Win Challenge.

JOIN, a funders collaborative led by United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), works to increase the number of Greater Philadelphians earning a family-sustaining wage. The Win-Win Challenge was created to spark innovative job training practices by providing local nonprofits with start-up capital and support to develop creative new workforce partnerships in our region.

“We are excited to provide UCD with the opportunity to bring their vision of Green City Works to life,” says Jennie Sparandara, director of JOIN. “Industry-led partnerships like these drive collaboration, develop new talent, and ultimately improve our local economy – benefiting both our regional employers and the workforce.”  

Five years ago, UCD launched the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative to connect talented, but unemployed or underemployed West Philadelphians to life-changing jobs at major University City employers. Over the next two years, UCD will leverage its institutional partnerships to launch Green City Works, a social enterprise that provides high-quality groundskeeping services while developing job skills and advancement opportunities for low-income workers interested in landscaping trades.

“The Win-Win Challenge grant allows us to focus on the interplay between the opportunities of economic growth and the problems of poverty,” says Matt Bergheiser, University City District Executive Director. “Flourishing green spaces are emerging alongside the construction boom in University City, and Green City Works allows us to wed economic opportunity to the development and stewardship of civic space.”

Sheila Ireland, Vice President of Workforce Solutions at UCD, adds, “The Skills Initiative operates from the viewpoint that many of West Philadelphia’s unemployed residents are talented individuals ready to contribute value to their next employer – given the right opportunity. Green City Works opens up new possibilities for many.”

The Win-Win Challenge provides a unique opportunity for funders, training and development experts, policymakers and employers to explore innovative approaches to connecting Greater Philadelphians to work, and to learn from the challenges and successes as they launch new job training projects.

In addition to grant funding, UCD will also receive peer support and technical assistance, access to the National Fund for Workforce Solutions annual meeting, programmatic evaluation and case studies, one-on-one support from JOIN staff and consultants, and opportunities to share learnings and results with media and policy, program, and philanthropic leaders. UCD will also be expected to report their outcomes on a regular basis.

“Our collaboration with UCD will help us build a stronger workforce by connecting working adults with the skills and tools they need to succeed,” says Jim Cawley, president and CEO, UWGPSNJ. “Together, we can help build a brighter future for many of our neighbors looking to begin a stable career and achieve lifelong financial stability for themselves and their families.”

Through this investment, JOIN seeks to drive the following high-level outcomes:

  • Lower-income, lower-skilled jobseekers advance to economic self-sufficiency through skills progression, credential attainment, wage increase, promotion and sustained employment
  • Employers receive an increased number of qualified, skilled workers to achieve business goals
  • The workforce system better serves lower-income, lower-skilled workers through changes in employer practice, educational institution practice, and policies that increase effectiveness and efficiency

Learn more at joincollaborative.org/win-win.

About the Job Opportunity Investment Network:

JOIN is a public-private partnership between philanthropy, government, community organizations and employers that invests in, evaluates and advocates for best practice efforts that narrow the gap between the region’s low-skilled workforce and the needs of the region’s employers. JOIN is a funders’ collaborative led by United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. To learn more about JOIN, visit www.joincollaborative.org.

About United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, serving communities in Pennsylvania’s Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, and New Jersey’s Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May and Cumberland counties, is part of a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and in people’s lives. United Way engages the community to identify the underlying causes of the most significant local issues, develops strategies and pulls together financial and human resources to address them, and measures the results. United Way is advancing the common good in Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey by positively impacting the lives of people throughout the region in the areas of education, financial stability, and health. For more information about United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey visit UnitedForImpact.org.