PHILADELPHIA — The City’s Department of Commerce announced its latest investments through the new Fair Chance Hiring Workforce Solutions Grant, selecting three organizations to develop innovative workforce training for justice impacted individuals to prepare for and connect to sustainable career pathways that pay a living wage. The selected organizations will equip the participants in these specific trainings with viable skills to thrive in the fashion manufacturing, building trades, and green economy industries. The Fair Chance Hiring Workforce Solutions Grant invests in programs from organizations that strive to elevate evidence-informed approaches addressing specific challenges that justice impacted residents face when preparing for and entering the workforce. The project proposals must be implemented and evaluated for impact over a 12-month period.

“The City envisions a globally competitive economy that benefits all people who live, work and do business in Philadelphia. We are seeing companies within world-class sectors selecting Philadelphia and the region for our talent, our location and proximity to so many assets. Philadelphia’s continued growth can provide Philadelphians with more sustainable career pathways that pay a living wage,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Our Administration is increasing equitable access to workforce training opportunities for residents and growing quality jobs. Fair chance hiring is a vital priority for the City of Philadelphia to build a thriving economy that benefits everyone.”

“Developing Philadelphia’s workforce and talent pipelines are crucial to our business growth and retention strategy. The Department of Commerce continues to collaborate with external partners and City departments to expand employer partnerships and resources,” said Anne Nadol, Commerce Director. “Together, we envision a workforce system that is more coordinated in its inclusive and innovative growth strategies. Commerce leads the Workforce Professional Alliance committed to increasing access to career readiness programs for Philadelphians. Our work aims to address the talent needs of employers, help businesses thrive and advance economic opportunities for all.”

“The Department of Commerce has been making record investments in organizations creating innovative workforce training programs that connect Philadelphia residents to emerging career pathways within world-class business sectors,” said Gianna Grossmann, Senior Director of Workforce Development, Office of Business Development and Workforce Solutions. “We also administer the Fair Chance Hiring Initiative, a program reimbursing local businesses that hire individuals who have been impacted by the justice system.”

The following three organizations have been selected to receive funding through the Fair Chance Hiring Workforce Solutions Grant, with efforts in the following industries to begin in July 2023:

  • New awardee expanding workforce training opportunities in the fashion manufacturing industry.
    • West Philadelphia Skills Initiative and Grant Blvd — Grant Award: $250,000
      • West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) in partnership with Grant Blvd will use the funds to launch “Fashion to the Future”, a fashion manufacturing training program for justice-impacted women. Fashion the Future is a pilot 14-week, cohort-based training program to launch in September 2023. The first six weeks will combine WPSI’s jobseeker recruitment and world-class professional development with Grant Blvd’s in-house foundational industrial sewing curriculum. Jobseekers will spend the subsequent eight weeks in paid on-the-job training with Grant Blvd’s fashion and home goods lines.
  • New awardee expanding workforce training opportunities in the building trades industry.
    • Educational Data Systems, Inc — Grant Award: $233,662
      • Educational Data Systems, Inc will use the funds, in partnership with Garage82, to engage employers, re-entry providers, and justice-impacted individuals who have an interest in construction pre-apprenticeship pathways. The goal is to create job placement outcomes that will help participants build economic stability, and launch a career pathway in a growing, high-wage industry. The program includes 8 weeks of pre-apprenticeship courses, 8 weeks of paid work experience, an industry recognized credential and college credits. This exposure to various trades allows participants to find specialties that match their skills and interests that can be pursued through full-time unsubsidized employment after their work-based learning.
  • New awardee expanding workforce training opportunities in the green economy industry.
    • Solar States, LLC — Grant Award: $226,316.33
      • Solar States, LLC will use the funds towards its Find Your Ladder Training Program providing mentorship, education and job training to Philadelphia’s justice impacted or returning citizens and otherwise high-risk individuals, in partnership with PowerCorpsPHL. This program will utilize the Find Your Power Curriculum authored and designed by Solar States, building upon the success of their previous training programs. Participants will be prepared for jobs in the green collar economy while supporting personal and professional development. During the 10-week classroom-based phase, students will meet at Solar States’ new solar lab in Bridesburg. Students get practical and hands-on experience with solar installation, work-site safety, electrical and construction basics while simultaneously learning the theory and science that enables solar to function.

Residents and employers can email to learn more about our workforce training programs. The Workforce Solutions Grant is a key initiative that began as part of the Workforce Respond and Recharge 2021 Commitmentwhich is a collaborative effort by the City, led by the Department of Commerce, along with its partners in the Workforce Professional Alliance. More information about the City’s investments in workforce development initiatives for Philadelphia residents and businesses available online here.