Workforce Development

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The Idea

In the last few years, the Fund has worked to align natural partners who haven’t had the chance to engage with each other in the work of helping individuals prepare for and sustain good jobs—the kind of jobs that promise increased stability in housing, healthcare, and other necessities.

In the process, we have guided the development of a workforce development model that offers employer-recognized credentials in growth industries and leads to living-wage jobs with benefits. The model employs individual and group coaching informed by science (the biological, behavioral, and social disciplines) and focuses on developing executive function skills and resilience. It is girded by comprehensive, individualized support services that aim to remove barriers and ensure successful participation and completion.

The Fund is piloting the model in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We call it RISE, Readiness in Skilled Employment.

Rise to the Top

Recently, Liz Finley, NEPA RISE Program Director at the McGowan Fund, chatted with our communications team about her role as RISE NEPA program director and shared the stories of some recent RISE graduates.

The Process

The Fund convenes the partners, each of whom offers a specific area of expertise—these are not competitive grants. In coordination with the Fund, the partners:


    Develop criteria and characteristics for program candidates, based on local population, service needs, and training partner requirements


    Recruit, assess, and enroll participants


    Coordinate and provide individualized support services (including connections to public services) to help ensure participation and completion of the training, such as childcare assistance, transportation and housing assistance, assistance with accessing healthcare or mental healthcare


    Identify growth sectors for living-wage jobs that are accessible to the target population and consult with prospective employers, ensuring that attached credentials are recognized and in demand


    Deliver training courses as well as one-on-one coaching services and cohort-based group sessions to reinforce executive skills coaching and goal-setting and to foster peer support among participants

    As with all McGowan grants, the RISE program is subject to disciplined evaluation and measurement. In this case, the outcomes measurements include job placement, employment in the target sector(s), and entry wages and wage increases; benefits; and job retention. We expect process and qualitative measures as well.

    More information

    More details are available through the Fund. Contact us at [email protected].