Community Foundation Joins Effort to Increase Employment Opportunities

The Central New York Community Foundation has joined several community partners to launch a new workforce development initiative that aims to create job opportunities for low-income residents in Syracuse. The Work Train Collaborative was established to help local employers fill gaps in their workforce by identifying their specialized, and sometimes industry-specific, employment needs and then working with local education partners and community service organizations to train interested individuals in those fields before placement. The Collaborative’s underlying mission is to fill employment gaps for Central New York employers, while fostering new opportunities for low-income residents.

The Work Train’s process will involve various steps to ensure proper workforce need identification and job fulfillment, starting with the establishment of partnerships within industries where there is a persistent and robust demand for workers, as well as opportunities for career advancement. To begin, employers will be asked to convene and collectively identify their workforce needs in depth. The Collaborative plans to utilize that feedback to identify the necessary training and supplemental services that will be necessary to make individuals competitive within the job market.

Upon identifying training needs, the Collaborative will work with local vocational schools and community colleges to deliver industry-specific trainings and certifications, as well as supplemental life and work readiness skills, to ensure success. In addition, the Collaborative is partnering with community organizations to identify the barriers that low-income individuals face and ensure that the new trainings will be fully accessible by job seekers. Upon placement, the Collaborative plans to continue its work by ensuring that long-term career supports are available to maintain job retention.

Work Train’s first industry partnership will be in the healthcare field, where there is a persistent and robust demand for workers, as well as opportunities for career advancement. To begin, the Collaborative is partnering with Loretto to recruit and hire nearly 100 Certified Nursing Aides by September, with plans to scale the platform to other industries and areas of the region in 2015.

The Community Foundation has partnered with United Way of Central New York, the Allyn Foundation, the Reisman Foundation, the Gifford Foundation, CenterState CEO and St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Foundation to help fund the Collaborative’s operations. In addition, the Collaborative is working alongside a number of educational institutions, business organizations, local government and workforce development agencies that will help identify employment needs and establish the proper training opportunities.

The Work Train Collaborative was recently named as a member of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. This initiative of national and local funders supports a national network of employer-driven workforce initiatives to help low-wage jobseekers obtain career opportunities. Partnership with the National Fund allows Work Train access to resources and technical assistance from field experts, share best practices with other partner sites and become eligible for philanthropic and federal funds.

Established in 1927, the Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of permanent charitable endowments for the betterment of the region.  The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of more than $172 million. It awarded $9.5 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations and since its inception has invested nearly $130 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses through the administration of nearly 650 funds. The organization also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen local nonprofits and address the region’s most pressing challenges.


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