October 29, 2011

Awards Represent Distribution from Federal Government's Social Innovation Fund

Dan River Region, VA (October 29, 2011) - The National Fund for Workforce Solutions has announced that the Dan River Region Collaborative will receive a grant of $300,000 to expand its work supporting regional, employer-led workforce partnerships designed to prepare workers and jobseekers for sustainable employment in the local market.

The Dan River Region Collaborative is one of 32 National Fund sites across the country and one of five such sites being awarded grants totaling $2.1 million. The award represents the third-round of funding supported by the federal Social Innovation Fund grant awarded to the National Fund and its implementation partner, Jobs for the Future. The Social Innovation Fund is an innovative federal program that addresses major challenges confronting communities by growing high-impact nonprofit organizations delivering proven solutions.

"One of the largest barriers to economic growth in many communities is the shortage of a skilled workforce, and I am pleased that Southside will benefit from this investment," said Senator Jim Webb. "The Dan River Region Collaborative is a strong example of a public-private partnership that will work to ensure that employer demands are being met through a globally competitive, skilled workforce."

The award represents a combination of federal funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service's Social Innovation Fund and an equal amount of matching funds raised by the National Fund from private donors. Locally, the Danville Regional Foundation, The Harvest Foundation, The Community Foundation of the Dan River Region, the J.T. Minnie Maude Charitable Trust, the West Piedmont and South Central Workforce Investment Boards, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Revitalization Commission, along with the regional Chambers of Commerce and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, have joined forces with the National Fund to develop long-term employer partnerships in support of workforce improvements across the region, improving employment, training, and labor market outcomes for low-skill, low-wage individuals.

The two-year grant will allow the local Collaborative to support training, capacity building efforts, and systems change work in the advanced manufacturing, energy, healthcare, and information technology sectors. "The National Fund model is locally driven, and unique to every region and every industry sector," said Damian Thorman, National Program Director at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Chair of the National Fund. "But all of our sites are built upon a similar strategy: implement job training and career support programs in close partnership with employers, ensuring that businesses benefit from a skilled workforce and employees get the skills and certifications that lead to sustainable careers."

The Dan River Region Collaborative (DRRC) was founded in 2008 to address workforce development in the Dan River Region of Virginia. To date, the Collaborative has raised more than $1.4 million to support its efforts. Employer partnerships in healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and energy are currently underway with plans to explore an information technology partnership. The new funds will allow the Collaborative to expand its geographic footprint into Patrick County and three North Carolina border counties.

Laurie Moran, President of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce, serves as the current Chairperson for the Dan River Region Collaborative. "We are thrilled that our region has been recognized and awarded a Social Innovation Fund grant. As we focus on job creation, it's imperative that we find innovative solutions that advance the skills of our workforce to be competitive in a global economy," said Moran. "In times of limited resources, the public-private funding partnerships that our region has leveraged will allow us to be flexible and responsive to the workforce needs of our employers."

Leigh Cockram, Executive Director for the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, also serves on the DRRC Steering Committee. "The Dan River Region Collaborative is an important partner in assisting with building the workforce needed to support regional economic development in Southern Virginia," said Cockram. "The best way to show new prospects our region is a viable place to do business, is to show them a strong, stable existing industry base. This Social Innovation Fund grant will help the DRRC ensure we have the workforce needed to continue to support our existing industries' needs."

Regional employers in the manufacturing, healthcare, energy or IT sectors who are interested in learning more about the Collaborative should contact Julie Brown, DRRC Project Director, at jbrown@danriverrc.com or 434-836-5674.

About National Fund for Workforce Solutions:

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is an award-winning national initiative focused on helping low-wage workers obtain good careers while at the same time ensuring that employers have the high-quality skills that will enable them to succeed in this highly competitive economy. Since 2008, the National Fund has raised nearly $24 million to support 30 communities that have contributed an additional $104 million in locally-raised resources from 216 different funding sources, including community foundations, United Ways, corporate foundations, workforce investment boards, chambers of commerce and state agencies. Each of these communities has created local funding collaboratives that are collectively investing in more than 80 sectoral workforce partnerships. The addition of these six new sites brings the total number of communities where the National Fund is working to 30.

Ten national funders lead the effort: Annie E. Casey Foundation; the California Endowment; Ford Foundation; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Microsoft; The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; The Hitachi Foundation; the Prudential Foundation; and the Walmart Foundation.

About Jobs for the Future:

Jobs for the Future develops, implements, and promotes new education and workforce strategies that help communities, states, and the nation compete in a global economy. In 200 communities in 41 states, JFF improves the pathways leading from high school to college to family-sustaining careers.

About the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Social Innovation Fund:

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. The Social Innovation Fund is an initiative of the Corporation that improves the lives of people in low-income U.S. communities. Through an innovative public-private partnership, the Social Innovation Fund and selected local and national grantmakers co-invest in programs that increase the scale of community-based solutions that have evidence of real impact in the areas of youth development, economic opportunity or healthy futures. Every federal dollar invested is matched with private funds, and all programs are rigorously evaluated. As a result, the most effective approaches can be expanded to reach more people in need and key lessons can be captured and broadly shared. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.