A federal program that fuels grassroots solutions to community challenges is helping close the skills gap that traps millions of people in poverty, even in a growing economy.
The Social Innovation Fund (SIF)—part of the Federal Corporation for National and Community Service—has awarded funding to the new Bridges to Career Opportunities program at three Centers for Working Families (CWFs) in Indianapolis. The Bridges program is overseen by LISC Indianapolis in order to help low-income workers build the skills necessary to earn a living wage. Coaches at three community centers will teach core skills like math, reading, and English as a second language in combination with “soft skills” like interviewing, teamwork and conflict resolution—all organized around the employment preferences of specific industries or sectors—preparing participants to succeed in subsequent technical skills training.
This local effort is part of an $11.3 million SIF grant to the national LISC office, which developed the Bridge skills program and began piloting it last year in several cities. Thanks to this grant LISC is now expanding the model through community organizations across the country that each provide a foundation of integrated services and long-term financial coaching that helps low-income families expand their income, credit, savings and job opportunities.
LISC recently awarded a total of $525,000 to three Centers for Working Families to build the Bridges program in Indy that will reach 187 people over the next 12 months. The grantees are John Boner Neighborhood Center, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center and Edna Martin Christian Center.