Workforce Development

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Growing and connecting jobs for Milwaukee

In wide swaths of Milwaukee, jobs are scarce, unemployment is the norm and families are suffering financially. At Bader Philanthropies, we believe there is hope. Jobs with promising career paths are the key to ensuring family stability, regional vitality and long-term economic mobility.

The Need: Unemployment rates provide motivation for learning new skills

To reach the goal of long-term economic strength, we bring together partners from the public and private sectors to break down the barriers to gainful employment. We look for new approaches, both here and nationally, that can put more Milwaukeeans back to work. We seek research that can further our understanding of the issues at the heart of the problem, and then, use those findings to build coalitions to create sustainable paths to employment.

Our Approach: Prepare, connect, rethink

While the economy remains soft, there are jobs available in the region. Yet, there are legions of unemployed, not just in the city’s poorest neighborhoods but across communities of all stripes. While the solution should be simple – connect the unemployed to job openings – there are numerous and complex challenges at play.

It takes ongoing collaboration to identify the best way to leverage the Foundation’s ideas and resources. To that end, Jobs for Milwaukee encompasses five core strategies:

  • Job Preparation and Readiness
    Support and expand vocational and apprenticeship programs, while expanding work support services for hard-to-place unemployed.
  • Link to Existing/Emerging Jobs
    Support city-wide jobs initiatives while building the capacity of small, results-oriented jobs programs.
  • Job Creation and Expansion
    Support new and small businesses and entrepreneurship in Milwaukee.
  • Workforce Barrier Reduction
    Support new approaches amongst partners from the public and private sectors to break down the barriers to gainful employment, that can put more Milwaukeeans back to work.
  • Advance Collaboration
    Convene city-wide summits, workshops and other opportunities that can link business, civic, philanthropic and workforce partners to collaborate on solutions to workforce issues.

Our Impact: Connecting partners, creating opportunity

Since the mid-1990s, the Foundation has built coalitions around the economic vitality of Milwaukee’s struggling neighborhoods. Through more than $25 million in grant investments, we work to connect business, workforce, and community development partners with the shared purpose of revitalizing Milwaukee’s long-disinvested neighborhoods.

According to some studies, more than half of the city’s working-age African American men do not have steady employment. That disconnect represents the true human impact in the city’s hardest hit communities. So in 2012, we launched Jobs for Milwaukee to focus on the unemployment disparity among African American men.

We already work with our nonprofit partners to provide support and share ideas, but the complexity of the issue requires all hands on deck. To create additional momentum, we helped form the Milwaukee Area Workforce Funding Alliance, which links private and corporate donors with local public-sector entities. Together, we identify promising approaches to addressing the workforce gaps and maximize our funding in ways that propel the best ideas forward.


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