New coalitions and innovations seem to be springing up all over the country to address the challenges facing America’s workers, backed by a range of funders. Last week, we wrote about a big effort on jobs spearheaded by Howard Schultz and Starbucks. And yesterday we wrote about a workforce push in Newark that JPMorgan Chase is helping bankroll.
The desire to be a journalist — to tell the stories that inspire feeling and change lives — usually kicks in fairly early in life. Many of us discover in high school that a source of great meaning and gratification comes from being able to communicate with others through writing or another form of media.
Which foundations support youth journalism in its many current incarnations, which now include blogging, videography, Youtubing and podcasting? Which foundations should grant seekers for youth turn to if they want to do the work of cultivating media and journalism for young minds?
If you’ve been reading Inside Philanthropy lately, you know that a number of tech companies and leaders have stepped forward in the past year to address gender issues in tech with philanthropic initiatives. Awareness on this issue is finally growing, although change is still slow.
Now imagine that you are lesbian or transgender. The lack of representation for these minorities in the tech world is not even tracked for data, but based on the experiences of trans and lesbian people in the field, the need for more work on equity for this group is very real. With a high level of isolation and very few role models, lesbian and transgender folks face added challenges in starting and maintaining careers in the tech industry.
In the past year or so, the tech world has come under scrutiny for male overrepresentation. A high-profile sex discrimination suit was filed against VC firm Kleiner Perkins, and there’s been a rash of cases of women experiencing online harassment in tech circles. Meanwhile, in a very different development, corporations of all kinds that rely on skilled workers have awakened to the need to ensure that an increasingly diverse workforce has a strong education in science and math. There’s just not enough geeky white guys to go around anymore.
Google is at the center of the tech universe, and men comprise 70 percent of its workforce, so it would be hard for them not to notice the problem—or feel the heat.
One way Google has been addressing the STEM gender gap is by providing RISE awards—grants of $15,000 to $50,000 that focus on educating girls, minorities, and low-income students up to age 18 in computer science, helping to prepare them for workforce jobs at places like Google.
If you want to change public policy in the United States, you’ll eventually find your way to the influential world of Washington think tanks. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), one of the most aggressive foundations seeking to move big ideas, has been investing in Beltway policy shops for a while now. Earliest this year, in its biggest such give yet, the foundation made an $8.4 million grant to the Urban Institute to help develop its Pay for Success work. Now Arnold is taking things a step further: It’s setting up its own wonk operation in the nation’s capital.
Since the Great Recession, a slew of new workforce development efforts have launched all across the country, but how much do the different programs know about each other, and how can proven strategies be effectively replicated?
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is on the case. This Boston-based fund is a group with a long list of big-name foundations working to improve career advancement for low-wage workers. By engaging employers in more than 30 communities across the U.S., the National Fund develops employer-led industry partnerships that guide educational and training investments. This is the kind of employer-employee matching that makes for strong, long-term employment prospects, and a more stable economy for the region.
Honda is best known as a car maker, but it also has a charitable foundation that is doing some interesting things to drive the American economy in the right direction, as we’ve been reporting lately.
A case in point: Honda recently announced a new, $1 million investment in Ohio-based workforce development for an innovative program called EPIC, which will focus on creating more interest in manufacturing careers and bolstering education and training for the high-tech manufacturing jobs of the future.
Before saying more about this grant, let’s just pause to note the irony: A Japanese car company that famously helped bury Detroit, once the core of American industrial know-how, wants to revive the kind of skilled U.S. workforce that ended up with pink slips in an earlier era as foreign cars filled the roads.