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In 2016, Communities Foundation of Texas, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and JPMorgan Global Philanthropy set out to help local, community-based workforce development organizations build their capacity for learning — including the use of data to enhance results for those they serve. 

More than 20 organizations from the DFW area completed a national workforce benchmarking survey through the Workforce Benchmarking Network (WBN). The WBN survey is an initiative of Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW), and is designed to connect best practices from more than 500 community-based workforce providers across the nation with local strategies that will deepen the capacity and increase the impact of these vital programs in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

The findings from the benchmarking survey revealed that participating DFW workforce programs were more likely than their national counterparts to offer non-workforce development programming (e.g., housing, food or emergency assistance, domestic violence shelter and counseling, re-entry counseling for incarcerated persons, etc.)

Offering multiple services is important because the region’s community-based nonprofits — often the entry point for low-income, low-credentialed people seeking assistance — work hard to help their clients access further training and entry-level jobs that are on a pathway to family-sustaining careers. In addition to the overall regional survey results, participating DFW agencies learned how their workforce practices aligned with their national peers, alongside areas for improvement. Agencies received targeted training through quarterly peer learning forums, facilitated by the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce.

In 2018, the DFW Workforce Collaborative added one year of targeted technical assistance to interested organizations to target specific data collection and performance challenges such as employer engagement and participant follow-up and retention. The agencies participated in quarterly peer learning forums. 

Dallas Area Funders Introduce the Inaugural Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy Fellows 

On October 23, 2019, Communities Foundation of Texas, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas announced the inaugural class of a new program designed to improve local economic opportunity and mobility efforts and create innovative solutions to the challenges faced by workers and businesses. The Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy, a 12-month fellowship developed through a partnership with the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, is designed to strengthen the local network of non-profit, government, academic, and business leaders through a series of retreats and workshops that will introduce the participating Fellows to new tools and strategies. This Academy is the latest in a series of several Workforce Leadership Academies hosted in communities across the United States and Canada. The 24 fellows of the Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy Class of 2019-2020 represent a range of community-based organizations, businesses, post-secondary educational institutions, and government agencies. The Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy launched October 23, 2019 and will culminate with a collaborative capstone project presentation June 9, 2020.

view 2019-2020 class 

“Collaboration grows at the speed of trust, and today’s workforce development leaders are increasingly being asked to create solutions through collaboration,” said Sheila Maguire, senior fellow at the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and director of the local network of Workforce Leadership Academies. “This Academy is a rare opportunity for these local leaders to step back with colleagues from Dallas, reflect on their own organizational challenges, hear from 2 leading practitioners from around the country, and develop the network and trust so essential for success.”

“As Dallas continues to grow and change, we want to equip even more local leaders with tools they can use to advance economic opportunity for all,” said Sarah Cotton Nelson, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Communities Foundation of Texas. “We’re excited to be able to offer, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, professional development through the Academy to help leaders learn and think critically about economic challenges and develop sustainable solutions to address those.”

The Academy will create and support a peer-learning community of economic opportunity and workforce leaders with a one-year educational and networking experience to help them manage the challenges they face in addressing changes in technology, business norms and policy. These senior-level fellows will work with leading practitioners from around the US, learn about practical planning tools and collaborate to reflect on and develop effective strategies to strengthen the Dallas community. Alumni of the Academies become part of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunity Fellows Network.

“Making meaningful progress on an issue as critical as improving economic opportunity and mobility requires non-traditional approaches and a lot of non-traditional thinking. That’s why bringing this class together is so important. I am confident these 24 talented Fellows will make a lasting impact on our community,” Anne Motsenbocker market leader and head of Middle Market Banking for JPMorgan Chase in Texas.

“Together, with our valued partners Communities Foundation of Texas and JPMorgan Chase, we are leading the charge toward expanding opportunity and mobility for all North Texans,” said Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton President and CEO, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “The Academy has extraordinary potential to achieve lasting results for Dallas by equipping and empowering families to become financially stable.”


Learn more about our economic security focus

Want to learn more about CFT’s focus on Economic Security?

At Communities Foundation of Texas, we are deeply committed to making a profound and measurable impact in the economic success across the North Texas community.

To learn more, send us an email.