From 2006 to 2009, the San Francisco Foundation evaluated programs funded by the Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative (BAWFC) that prepare disadvantaged residents for jobs and career advancement in high-wage, high-demand industries—especially health care and biotechnology. Jessica Pitt, Ph.D., at the BAWFC directed the project.
The San Francisco Foundation also evaluated cross-site lessons from the BAWFC and SkillWorks, a Boston-based initiative with similar goals. That evaluation focused on the efforts of the two initiatives to build capacity and use advocacy to strengthen and streamline the regional workforce development system.
Key Findings: In Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative: Evaluation Findings 2004–2009 (October 2010), the evaluators reported these findings, among others:
- Workforce partnerships enrolled 1,217 participants with limited incomes, low English proficiency and limited work histories in nursing, biotechnology and other health care training programs, and provided intensive support services.
- Most participants (80%) successfully completed the programs; 83 percent of those eligible were placed in jobs; and 68 percent of those eligible obtained certificates or licenses, such as for vocational nurse or biotech lab assistant.
- Although the BAWFC helped increase overall funding for workforce development, neither the collaborative nor its grantees played the role of intermediary essential to strengthening the regional workforce development system.
In Cross-Site Lessons Learned from SkillWorks, the Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative and Other Healthcare Workforce Initiatives (June 2009), the evaluator reported this lesson, among others:
- To create capacity that will lead to better outcomes for large numbers of individuals over time, collaboratives such as the BAWFC and SkillWorks need to maintain a sharp focus on systems change and avoid an overly narrow emphasis on providing.
For example, SkillWorks funded the Workforce Solutions Group to develop a statewide advocacy agenda. Results included a state Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, which drew $50 million in new funding, and a Workforce Accountability Task Force with links to adult basic education and higher education.