Announcements from Chicago's Workforce Development Funder Collaborative

January 2020
Beyond Skills - CWFA Reflections and Ambitions
Matt Bruce, Executive Director

I often tell people I mark the age of the Funder Alliance by the age of my daughter. My wife was 6 months pregnant with Olivia when I started this job, she'll turn 7 in just a couple of weeks! And while I can't say I'm as proud of CWFA as I am of Olivia, her birthdays always remind me to look back on what the Funder Alliance has accomplished and look forward to what's to come.
We've done a lot in seven years: we've shown how manufacturers can change practices to help workers and their bottom line (See Genesis post below), we have helped make Chicago a leader in the worker center movement, we've started or supported employer led partnerships in healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services, and we have changed the conversation about post-secondary success. We also have a lot to look forward to in 2020: ongoing support of apprenticeship in Illinois, new opportunities to help employers innovate, and a new focus on the workforce in the early childhood sector, to name 
a few.

But what I've been most proud of and what I am most looking forward to is our potential for thought leadership. The two announcements in this month's newsletter are great examples of that potential. One is the release of the evaluation of our Genesis investments. Our research team led by the Aspen Institute was able to document that when manufacturers are helped to change practices, both workers and companies can benefit. And the second is the launch of Chicagoland Career Pathways. This is a major success of our Pro Path fund, which has helped change the conversation about post-secondary success in Illinois. Looking ahead to 2020, I hope we continue to contribute to efforts like these.
Evaluated the Effects of Manufacturing Extension 
on Business Success and Job Quality

Four years ago, we launched in partnership with the  Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), the Genesis initiative in an effort to improve business success and job quality at small and medium-sized manufacturers in the Chicago region. 

Genesis is based on the idea that people are a company's best asset - when the workforce is well-groomed and taken care of, operations, productivity, and competitiveness will skyrocket.
Working with 22 manufacturing firms in the Chicago area, IMEC's approach integrated process improvements with "people" strategies to improve workforce engagement, productivity, and stability, as well as "product" strategies to keep up with changing market demands. 

The evaluation of IMEC's implementation of Genesis, conducted by the Aspen Institute's  Workforce Strategies Initiative  in collaboration with the  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  and  Portland State University  found that this people-process-product approach not only benefited workers, but also helped businesses save money and grow. Here's the Executive Summary.

Join us to learn insights and observations from the Aspen Institute's evaluation of IMEC's Genesis implementation this Thursday, January 23rd from 1-2:30pm at the Chicago Community Trust. Event registration link:
Upcoming Career Pathways Directory Launch Event

The Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance with leadership from  Origami Works Foundation and support from representatives of  Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Teachers Union FoundationEmbarc, Chicago Jobs Council, and multiple stakeholders across the city built this resource for young adults and their guides who want low barrier options for advancing their careers. Featured in the directory are employer training programs, certification organizations, City Colleges of Chicago, and many other organizations that are invested in closing the skills gap in Chicagoland. A wide array of career fields are represented, including but not limited to: healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, culinary/hospitality, and transportation, distribution, and logistics.

Join us at the official launch of Chicagoland CareerPathways on January 29th from 1:00 - 2:30pm with optional workshops from 2:30 - 4:00 at The Chicago Community Trust.  Sign up here to attend and learn more about the online directory of progressive career pathway programs and sign up here for the  optional workshops and/or video testimonials.
Thank you for your interest in the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance. Follow us on social media: Twitter or LinkedIn or visit our website at