Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative 2023 Year in Review
2023 was an exciting year for MPN’s Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative. As the year began, the Collaborative LAUNCHED AND BEGAN TO IMPLEMENT OUR NEW STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK. Here is a summary of how that work went and how others can join us.
Funding and Staffing in 2023:
Funding for the Collaborative and its work was provided in 2023 by The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the Abell Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Caplis Family Fund, the Hoffberger Foundation, and the Thalheimer Eurich Charitable Fund. We projected a budget of $246,000 in 2023. The work of the BWFC in 2023 was led by Linda Dworak and supported by Megan McSwain, both full-time staff of Maryland Philanthropy Network. Our Chairs in 2023 were Mia Blom, Visit Baltimore Education & Training Foundation, and Marci Hunn, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
How to Participate with the Baltimore Workforce Funders in 2024:
As you will see below, there is a lot to be proud of what we accomplished together in 2023. We need continued support and engagement of our local partners, particularly MPN Members. Here are some ways you can be involved in 2024:
- Join the Funders Collaborative and participate in our monthly meetings. (Eligibility: MPN members who actively fund workforce development in the Baltimore region. Willingness to support the work of the Collaborative.)
- Participate in a Workforce Community Conversation. We expect to hold three in 2024.
- Come to an MPN Workforce Affinity Group learning program for MPN Members.
- Submit grants data for the annual BWFC Workforce Grants Tally in early 2024.
- Look out for the Abell Foundation’s publication of the BWFC paper on apprenticeship in Baltimore.
- And importantly, provide essential financial support to sustain the Collaborative’s momentum. Funding is needed to:
- Maintain BWFC staffing for all our activities.
- Invest in the continuation of the Wage Record Study.
- Provide matching dollars to help us pursue a new grant opportunity through the National Fund for Workforce Solutions to support Baltimore’s childcare workforce.
- Support and follow up on projects emerging from the Workforce Community Conversations efforts, including funds to host Workforce Community Conversation Happy Hours.
- Develop new reports that impact the Baltimore region’s workforce effort.
Here Is What We Accomplished In 2023:
Monthly Collaborative Meetings – For over a decade, BWFC members have meet at noon on the second Thursday of each month. In 2023, this continued throughout the year on Zoom. Conversations focused on topics related to collective strategies and goals.
Workforce Community Conversations – In keeping with the Collaborative’s commitment to listening to our partners at the front lines of workforce development services in Baltimore, we launched the Workforce Community Conversations initiative in 2023. A planning committee comprised of service providers and funders meet regularly throughout 2023 to define a shared concept of workforce community conversations, and to develop and facilitate a first event in October. Approximately 50 individuals representing a balanced list of funders and grantees attended this highly participatory event. Many came out to a post-event Happy Hour where new relationships began to form. Evaluations were very positive and indicated that participants were energized by this unique opportunity to have a candid conversation with funders about the changes in Baltimore’s workforce development between pre-pandemic times and today. Following the event, the planning committee was reconstituted and began to work on our next Workforce Community Conversation to be held in winter 2024.
Workforce Grants Tally – The Collaborative conducted an annual collection and analysis of workforce funding data for the Baltimore region. In total, we were able to track 11 private and public funders collaborating to award $36.9M of new funding for workforce development efforts in Baltimore. This represented $16.9M (46%) in grants and contracts made by philanthropic members of the BWFC which, in turn, leveraged $20M (54%) in public grants to nonprofit partners. The largest categories of funding were for: Industry-specific Training Programs, General Employment Preparation and Career Readiness, and In-School Youth Workforce Programming.
Training Outcomes Data – Throughout 2023, the Collaborative continued work to systematize the collection of participant data from workforce development organizations across Baltimore. The BWFC Wage Record Study is an analysis of pre- and post-program employment and wages for individuals served in the Baltimore Area. The project helps to understand the long-term outcomes of workforce training programs. A total of 21 local non-profit organizations have participated to date with more slated to begin in 2024. For the Wage Record Study, the BWFC has developed a data collection system utilizing a cloud-based data management platform through which providers upload information about their clients’ demographics and training outcomes. The BWFC contracts with the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore to match this information to Maryland State administrative data. This matching process results in an analysis of how employment and wages change over time, before and after cohorts of jobseekers participate in workforce training. A new Wage Record Study report is forthcoming in early 2024. The data collection system developed through this initiative is now providing a framework for the new Baltimore Data Bridge to be launched by the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Employment Development in 2024. Eventually, the Wage Record Study will be integrated into the Data Bridge. Additional funding partners are needed in 2024 to keep the Wage Record Study going.
Baltimore Infrastructure Workforce Hub – In 2023, the BWFC worked as part of a collaborative effort to establish a jobs hub connecting Baltimore residents to employment opportunities on federally funded infrastructure projects. Initially, the Hub will focus on construction of the new Frederick Douglass Amtrak Tunnel traversing West Baltimore. Amtrak has set a target for at least 50% of all apprentice hours and at least 20% of all journey hours on this $4.7Billion project going to workers from the City of Baltimore with a focus on a group of West Baltimore zip codes. To make this happen, Amtrak will invest at least $5 million in funding received through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to create recruitment and training programs for new jobs for Baltimore residents. Beginning in 2024, the BWFC will partner with the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, Baltimore City Schools, and the Baltimore DC Building Trades Council to coordinate the activities of the Hub. The project partners are currently in talks with Amtrak and the US Department of Transportation to clarify how dollars with flow into the Baltimore workforce system to best serve community members. Stay tuned for an announcement about the BWFC’s special role in this work.
Apprenticeship Research – In 2023, the Collaborative worked under a contract with the Abell Foundation to research the state of apprenticeship in Baltimore. Linda Dworak conducted interviews with over 20 local and national stakeholders, scanned a body of research, and analyzed available data to learn about the current trends and future opportunities for the expansion of youth and adults in apprenticeship. A report of the findings will be released in 2024.
Job Quality Initiatives – To support our strategy of increasing the number of good jobs in our region, the BWFC voted to adopt the Good Jobs Champions Group framework. This framework is aligned with our flagship efforts to address issues of job quality and equity in the Baltimore labor market through a partnership with Civic Works’ Baltimore Center for Sustainable Careers / Good Business Works. In October 2021, the BWFC was awarded an 18-month $50,000 Innovation Grant by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions/Walmart to support the development of a job quality and equity strategic roadmap that would build off our past work with Civic Works. The finalized roadmap, developed by Melissa Young, was presented by Civic Works to the BWFC in early 2023. It poses opportunities for BWFC and Civic Works to advance job quality at a systems level in Baltimore. The Collaborative continues to engage in job quality efforts:
- As a member of the Data Committee of the Baltimore Workforce Development Board where job quality definitions and metrics are being developed.
- By participating in the Direct Care Wages & Benefits Task Force convened by the Public Justice Center and the Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative to address the job quality and quality of care crisis in Maryland’s healthcare sector.
- Through the Infrastructure Workforce Hub – where efforts to address workplace challenges to equity and inclusivity is a critical concern.
- And by exploring the development of a coalition of childcare stakeholders working to increase job quality in the sector. We will be applying for a grant to support this work and are looking for funders to help us meet the 1:1 grant match.
Learning with MPN’s Workforce Affinity Group: In 2023, the Affinity Group hosted four learning events for MPN members: Briefing on the Maryland Works for Wind Initiative (February), Tour of the Baltimore Peninsula project (March), Workforce Legislative Debrief (June), and a Conversation with MD Secretary of Labor Portia Wu (June).
Engagement with National Partners: The BWFC remains informed, connected, and impactful through its relationships with national workforce organizations. In 2023, we continued to serve as Baltimore’s partner to the National Fund for Workforce Solutions by participating in monthly Site Directors calls, attending the annual Site Director’s meeting, advising on the Fund’s strategic plan, and ongoing participation in a variety of network activities. In November, Linda was a panelist for the national CAEL conference, and attended the National Skills Coalition conference and the People Powered Infrastructure Convening.
Our Work Together Was Organized Around:
A COMMON VISION
We envision an equitable greater Baltimore region where everyone can earn family-sustaining wages, access quality jobs, and build wealth.
SIX GUIDING STRATEGIC PRINCIPLES
- Race should not be a determinant of one’s employment outcomes or wealth. We recognize and work to dismantle systemic racism, bias, and anti-blackness.
- Employers are essential partners in this work. Advancing worker wellbeing and closing racial wealth gaps often requires changes in employer practice.
- Those who do the work of providing services and solutions are our partners in this work and we, as funders, commit to listening to these partners and approach them with humility and respect.
- We apply an asset framework to our work and our communications. We acknowledge all people’s aspirations, gifts, and excellence. We do not define people by their challenges.
- We use a systems approach to workforce problems and solutions. This means that we look across our ecosystem at interconnected policies, practices and mindsets that sustain inequities.
- The adults and youth most impacted by the work need to be heard and have agency. Jobseeker and worker voice is essential.
THREE PRIMARY STRATEGIES
- Create more equitable access to good jobs.
- Increase the number of good jobs.
- Support equitable and impactful workforce practices.
THREE KEY ROLES
- Invest in tactics that advance our primary strategies.
- Help increase overall investment by attracting external resources and forging partnerships.
- Incubate and catalyze new ideas.