Workforce Matters is a national network of grantmakers that draw on expert and practitioner knowledge to work together to strengthen workforce development philanthropy. As a member of this funder network, Ascendium contributed to the Fund for Workforce Equity, a new pooled fund that aims to center workers of color in the design and implementation of workforce policies and programs.
There was great interest in the Fund with over 350 organizations submitting a proposal for grant funding this summer. In its inaugural grantmaking round, the Fund will provide flexible resources and support to 15 workforce development organizations across the U.S. seeking to pilot and learn from new strategies, as well as innovate or extend existing strategies.
Ascendium Program Officer Kirstin Yeado will also serve on an advisory committee to support the Fund. As a member of the committee, Yeado’s expertise and understanding of the unique needs of learners from low-income backgrounds, including those from rural areas, will help to inform and refine the Fund’s strategy. Her participation will also position Ascendium to strengthen relationships with peer funders who are committed to advancing workforce outcomes, particularly for those in our target population of learners.
“Ascendium is eager to learn with and from the 15 organizations selected to receive grants from the Fund for Workforce Equity,” Kirstin said. “Important lessons about how to advance equitable outcomes will be elevated by this diverse group of grantees as they seek out the best ways to design and implement programs that ensure learners and workers of color, especially those from low-income backgrounds, are connected to workforce training opportunities that lead to high-quality jobs.”
Although insights generated from the Fund will be applicable to many of Ascendium’s grantmaking focus areas, a few projects have particular ties to investment priorities in Streamline Key Learner Transitions and Support Rural Postsecondary Education and Workforce Training. Ascendium has a special interest in those organizations, their proposed projects and what can be learned from them.
As a contributor to the Fund, Ascendium is committed to ensuring that work centering learners and workers of color does not end with this initial effort. We will continue to make supporting these efforts and the lessons we learn through this initiative a priority going forward.