The Local Initiatives Support Corporation has announced a $10 million grant from the Citi Foundation to help connect unemployed and underemployed Americans with jobs in growth industries facing a shortage of skilled workers.
The grant will expand LISC's Bridges to Career Opportunities initiative, a network of LISC-operated Financial Opportunity Centers (FOC) across the United States where job seekers can access skills training, personal financial coaching, continuing literacy and math education, and resources designed to help them secure affordable child care and housing, the lack of which can impede career mobility.
With the new funding, LISC will expand the Bridges model to a total of forty communities, with the goal of serving ten thousand job seekers over the next three years. By the end of the year, the organization will begin the process of selecting a mix of urban and rural communities where the model will be introduced, including several in areas that have been designated as Opportunity Zones, a federal incentive aimed at increasing investments in low-wealth communities as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
"The Bridges approach is a powerful strategy combining financial empowerment, work supports, and industry-specific job preparation that equips unemployed and underemployed individuals for living wage jobs and careers," said LISC president and CEO Maurice A. Jones. "This new collaboration with the Citi Foundation helps us dramatically expand the Bridges program as part of a comprehensive effort to catalyze economic and financial opportunity so that people can earn more, save more, and grow the economy."
The grant also signals an expansion of Citi's Pathways to Progress initiative from a focus on supporting career readiness for young people to providing adult job seekers with the full range of skills and services they need to secure gainful long-term employment. "It is important to recognize that globalization and technology, for all of their benefits, have also come at a cost to many in our country," said Citi CEO Michael Corbat. "The U.S. job market has changed, and American workers need both new skills and a support system that allows them to participate in training programs. The Citi Foundation and LISC partnership will help American workers who have been or are in danger of being displaced, which in turn will help American businesses compete and the U.S. economy grow."