Posted August 21, 2019

$2.6 million grant expands workforce collaborative efforts in North Philadelphia

The Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative is ramping up its effort to assist unemployed, underemployed and underpaid Philadelphians.

employer table at job fair
Photography By: 
Mike Sperando
More than 1,000 Philadelphians attended Temple’s most recent annual Neighborhood Job Fair, facilitated by the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative, in May.

Temple University’s Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative (LNPWI) announced the 16 community organizations it is funding to connect more North Philadelphia residents to employment or better paying jobs. This support is made possible by a recent grant of nearly $2.6 million from the Lenfest Foundation that provides a five-fold increase in the LNPWI’s budget this year.

“We want to be able to expand the opportunities for folks to get into training programs that lead to careers that provide family-sustaining wages,” said LNPWI Executive Director Shirley Moy. “By partnering with established organizations that are already doing great work, we can better collaborate and begin to fill more of the gaps that prevent people from securing employment.”

Moy said her organization spent its first year focused on learning as much as it could about the employment challenges for residents in its target area, which encompasses eight ZIP codes near Temple University. Now, she said, the organization is ready to ramp up efforts based on its analysis of Census and economic report data, combined with surveys and forums conducted with local residents and employers.

Through its research, the LNPWI identified four groups within its target population of the unemployed, underemployed and underpaid that face additional barriers to employment and could benefit from increased attention: people with disabilities, English as a Second Language (ESL) speakers and immigrant populations, teenagers and young adults neither enrolled in school nor participating in the workforce (sometimes known as “opportunity youth”), and returning citizens.  

Based on both its mission and those more specialized targets, the LNPWI has identified the following 16 collaboration partners for funding this year: Big Picture Philadelphia, Called To Serve CDC, the Center for Employment Opportunities, Community Integrated Services, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund, Electrical Association of Philadelphia, Esperanza, JEVS Human Services, the Maternity Care Coalition, Mental Health Partnerships, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Project HOME, the Steppingstone Scholars, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and YouthBuild Charter School. 

In addition to these community collaborators, the funding will support university partners focused on similar goals, including Temple’s College of Education and the Lewis Katz School of Medicine.

“This is all about opportunities. Few things are more life-changing than a family-sustaining job,” Moy said. “We want to bring more people into the workforce, and now, thanks to the generosity of the Lenfest Foundation, we have the funds to do it.”

Moy said a kickoff media event for this new collaboration will be held Sept. 25 from 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m. at the CareerLink Center at 4261 N. 5th Street.

—Andy Lochrie