Public Sector Solutions, Workforce & Economic Mobility, Results-Based Funding

American workforce development leaders are leveraging $500 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Good Jobs Challenge to address the deep vulnerabilities in regional employment systems exposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Social Finance is supporting workforce development partners across the country, including Good Jobs Challenge Grantees, as they pursue ambitious economic mobility initiatives fit for the future of the U.S. economy.

Sustainable systems for good jobs

Launched in 2022 with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Good Jobs Challenge supports 32 workforce development partnerships across 31 states and Puerto Rico that have collectively pledged to place more than 50,000 Americans into “quality jobs.” These are roles with pay that exceeds local prevailing wages for a given industry, offer basic benefits or union representation, and provide skill development and advancement opportunities.

Building the groundwork for long-term workforce development

Because grantees are building programs with two- or three-year timeframes, finding ways to nurture their work for the long haul is crucial. The EDA recognized the importance of sustainability when developing the Good Jobs Challenge, prioritizing applications with clear commitments from local and state government, philanthropy, and the private sector to invest in regional workforce development efforts within and beyond the grant window.

1. Determine what’s needed

Successful partnerships elevate the voices of employers who can pinpoint the skills in highest demand and the perspectives of workers in search of good jobs. Training providers, funders, and worker-serving organizations can also occupy important seats at the table. And together, these stakeholders can determine the outcomes that matter most, such as the share of learners who complete training and get job placements that stick or the share of those who experience marked and meaningful pay increases.

We’ve seen this in our collaboration with the San Antonio Workforce Development Office, which is working to match graduates from its Ready to Work initiative with high-demand positions at local employers under a pilot program called Pay It Forward. Here, San Antonio covers graduate wages during a six-week working interview period, after which employers reimburse the city for graduates who transition to full time positions.

This program was designed to meet the exact needs of the city, workers, and local employers, leveraging their respective experiences and perspectives. And we’re committed to maintaining this collaborative approach throughout the life of the program by collecting feedback from all involved, including participants, to gauge progress and make improvements to ensure the pilot continues to deliver what’s needed. 

2. Measure what works and take action

Meaningful measurement requires reliable data to enable training providers to identify effective upskilling programs, double down on the best ones, and troubleshoot others. Equipped with data, stakeholders can regularly review and then act on good information, such as by updating service provider contracts or improving data collection itself.

Our work with WORK Inc., a Boston-based workforce nonprofit supporting people with disabilities, illustrates how strong data infrastructure and analysis can drive program improvement. Social Finance conducted a cost-benefit analysis to help the organization understand and strengthen the impact of its programming, ultimately spotlighting outcomes that matter to workers, including meaningful paid work, job retention, wage growth, and society at large, including heightened tax revenue and lower demand for public benefits.

3. Better align incentives, investments, and accountability

Sustainable workforce systems have shared visions for stakeholders and their needs, assets, and potential gains. They feature training providers with skin in the game; workers who have the necessary support to pursue training with right-sized financial risk; and employers that contribute to the cost of identifying, preparing, and onboarding talent.

Across virtually every engagement in our economic mobility portfolio, we’ve seen the promise in better aligning employer investment with worker needs and desired workforce outcomes.

Social Finance is a leader in innovative financing, bringing together aligned stakeholders towards shared goals. We are exceptionally excited about our work together, and to leverage Social Finance's learnings and experience to change how workforce initiatives are funded.

Cait Garozzo

Executive Director, West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, a partner in Greater Philadelphia's Good Jobs Challenge collaborative

A smiling woman in a blue blazer.
I would say that my experience was nothing but success. It allowed me to provide for my son and move out of my mother’s home into our own apartment. It made me hungry for more.

Shaynise H.

Philladelphia Works participant

Shaynise Hill headshot
Pay It Forward, developed in collaboration with Social Finance, will make New Jersey stronger and fairer by providing access to job training for residents who need it most. Creating equitable opportunities is what we stand for.

Phil Murphy

Governor of New jersey

Phil Murphy Headshot
This arrangement is a no-brainer, if within a year, you’ve got a productive technician. One of our techs will generate between $15,000-20,000 a month in gross profit. A $10,000 tuition bill for an employee that’s loyal, and we can develop with our culture over the years, is definitely worth it.

Bill Black

CEO, National Fleet Management

A man in a suite and blue shirt

Addressing immediate talent needs with the future in mind

As Good Jobs Challenge grantees and other workforce development leaders sprint to create quality roles, a marathon looms. But with collaborative workforce development solutions, Social Finance is working to help them balance the demands of today and tomorrow and create the foundation for resilience and equitable growth across our nation’s regional economies.

Contact Head of Impact Advisory Jake Segal to learn more about our economic mobility work →

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