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LISC, Social Innovation Fund and District 1199C Training Fund join forces to open new opportunities for lower skilled workers in Philadelphia

New ‘Bridges to Career Opportunities’ addresses crippling education gaps — will support additional new services for Training Fund students in Occupational Bridge classes 

Philadelphia, PA - January 21st, 2016 - Text by LISC: 
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 (CNCS)—has awarded funding to the new Bridges to Career Opportunities program at The District 1199C Training Fund in Philadelphia. Coaches at the organization 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 contextualized to specific industries or sectors.

It's part of an $11.3 million SIF grant to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which developed the skills program and began piloting it last year through Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs). There are 80 LISC FOCs across the country providing integrated services and long-term financial coaching that helps low-income families expand their income, credit, savings and job opportunities. Philadelphia has three FOCs so far, including University City District's West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, People's Emergency Center's Center for Employment and Training, and the FOC at Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha.

LISC recently awarded The District 1199C Training Fund $170,000 for the first of a three year contract to become Philadelphia's fourth FOC, build the Bridges program here, and reach 120 people over the next 3 years.

“It’s clear that many hardworking families continue to struggle, because they have fallen through the cracks of our educational system and aren’t able to move up the economic ladder,” said Andrew Frishkoff, executive director with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Philadelphia program (Philadelphia LISC). “This program offers people a path to living wage jobs in healthcare and opportunities to advance their careers.”

“The District 1199C Training Fund is excited to become Philadelphia’s fourth LISC Financial Opportunity Center,” said Cheryl Feldman, Executive Director of The District 1199C Training Fund. “SIF funding will enable us to train people to enter healthcare career pathways that pay a living wage, investing in local talent by strengthening transferrable skills and providing credentials.”
These local challenges are not unique: an estimated 36 million American adults have low literacy skills and 62 million have low numeracy skills.

“We can’t ignore this skills gap if we care about our national economic health,” said Kevin Jordan, LISC senior vice president who oversees national programs. “It’s a fundamental part of helping unemployed and underemployed workers take advantage of the good jobs that are out there.”

SIF funded LISC’s initial expansion of FOCs back in 2010 as a promising new approach to addressing economic mobility issues.  The $21 million it has provided since then—along with funding from foundations and corporations and organizations like The District 1199C Training Fund—has helped more than 23,000 people annually tackle their financial challenges through FOCs.

“The Social Innovation Fund is changing the way the government serves the public by using rigorous evidence evaluations to find what works and make it work for more people,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. “I am proud that CNCS is supporting LISC’s Bridges to Career Opportunities program, which will take an inventive approach to one of today’s most pressing social problems – building opportunity for the unemployed in low-income communities. Congratulations to the District 1199C Training Fund in Philadelphia on being selected by LISC to continue this work.”

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About Philadelphia LISC:
Philadelphia LISC is the local office of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit community development organization that has invested $14.7 billion in 30 cities across the United States.

Philadelphia LISC is a catalyst for community change, working with partners to strengthen neighborhoods and improve the lives of residents. Philadelphia LISC combines corporate, government, and philanthropic resources to help community-based organizations revitalize underserved neighborhoods. Since 1980, Philadelphia LISC has invested $385 million to build or preserve 8,075 affordable homes and apartments and develop 1.8 million square feet of retail, community, and educational space.

About Social innovation Fund
Representing a new way of doing business for the federal government, the Social Innovation Fund unites public and private resources to evaluate and grow innovative community-based solutions that work. These solutions must have at least preliminary evidence of results in low-income communities in three priority areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures and youth development. The program will also capture and share best practices and lift-up models with potential for replication.

The Social Innovation Fund is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.  For more, visit