Karen Addis, 301-836-1516 x2; Karen@vaneperen.com
ROCKVILLE, Md. (Oct. 12, 2016) — WorkSource Montgomery, Inc., the workforce development resource for Montgomery County businesses and career seekers, announced today it has received a grant from the W.K. Kellogg foundation to address and help break the cycle of family poverty. WorkSource Montgomery is one of only three workforce development organizations in the U.S. and the only one on the East coast to be awarded a grant.
WorkSource Montgomery will receive $100,000 over the next three years and receive technical assistance from national experts, such as the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan forum for values based leadership and the exchange of ideas, and Ready Nation, which leverages the experience, influence, and expertise of more than 1,500 business executives to promote public policies and programs that build a stronger workforce and economy.
“We were up against some strong competition, so we were thrilled to learn we were one of only three workforce organizations in the entire country to have been awarded this prestigious grant,” said WorkSource Montgomery CEO Dr. Ellie Giles. “This grant puts Montgomery County on the national stage and gives us great exposure for the impactful work we are doing in one of the most economically diverse counties in the nation.”
The grant is unique in that it takes a “two-generation” or “whole family” approach to addressing poverty, meaning it focuses equally on services and opportunities for parent and child.
In a county known for its affluence, Montgomery County has also become a much more culturally diverse community over the years as the result of global immigration and urban-to-suburban migration from the District of Columbia. More students in Montgomery County public schools now live below the federally defined poverty level than in Washington, D.C. (2014 American Fact Finder), with one in three who are poor (Montgomery County Community Action Board, 2015). Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of kindergartners receive free or reduced price school meals (Montgomery Moving Forward).
These income disparities affect what educators call “kindergarten readiness,” how well a child is prepared physically, socially, and cognitively to enter kindergarten, which is a strong predictor of future success in school and in life. Youth who are parents are at greater risk of having children who are not kindergarten ready because they often are living at or below the federally defined poverty level.
WorkSource Montgomery will launch a pilot program comprised of 50 young “disconnected” parents — those ages 16-24 who are not enrolled in school or working — with the goal of making a positive impact on these individuals early in their career. Research has shown that improving a parent’s career path improves their child’s future.
WorkSource Montgomery also will aim to align workforce development with Early Head Start programs to begin an earnest discussion with local employers and the community around employment barriers and solutions for parents with young children.
In May 2016, local employers posted more than 47,000 jobs. Yet due to the lack of a systematic approach to talent development, many qualified individuals did not apply for these positions. WorkSource Montgomery has now implemented a one-system approach to meet the needs of employers and qualified career seekers.
“Increasing the labor involvement of parents with young children, and especially young parents, can help to decrease the labor shortage in Montgomery County and build a strong talent pipeline for our County businesses,” said WorkSource Montgomery Vice President of Industry Engagement and Job Services, Heather Henry, who will serve as the grant’s program manager. In launching the pilot program, WorkSource Montgomery will partner with several well-known and established local organizations, including the Department of Health and Human Services; Montgomery College; Montgomery Moving Forward, an alliance of nonprofit leaders; and Family Services, the county’s oldest private nonprofit social services organization.
In addition to the money it receives from the Kellogg grant, WorkSource Montgomery will provide matching funds for the pilot program using money it receives from the federal government’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The nonprofit also will provide inkind matching funds of office space, supplies and personnel; $5,000 toward outreach; and project oversight.
The Kellogg grant will be administered by two national nonprofit organizations: the National Association of Workforce Boards, which seeks innovative strategies to define and advocate for federal policies and funding that enable workforce development boards to help address new strategies for low-income families, and Innovate+Educate, which develops strategies and implements solutions to address skills gaps.
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Editor’s Note: WorkSource Montgomery, Inc. was established on July 1, 2016, as an independent public/private nonprofit organization to promote career training and placement for County workers and meet the workforce needs of local employers. The organization replaces the previous public entity, which was part of the Montgomery County Government. For more information, visit www.worksourcemontgomery.com or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.