BRIDGES TO CAREER OPPORTUNITY
The Need for Supported Bridge Programs
Among the many lessons gleaned from a decade of operating the CWF model, one has emerged with particular urgency: for low-skilled workers, a job is not enough to sustain a family household budget. Preliminary evidence shows that integrating workforce services, financial coaching and access to income supports helps improve job placement, job retention and financial outcomes—but low earnings significantly limit the impact of these integrated services. Without opportunities for periodic wage increases, career growth, and skill-building, families will achieve sufficient income to survive, but not to thrive. For many Americans though, the skills training is out of reach due to basic skills gaps and lack of academic readiness for college-based and community-based vocational training programs.
In 2015, LISC received an award from the Social Innovation Fund to scale the Bridges to Career Opportunities work to support community based organizations to connect neighborhood residents to essential job readiness competencies, skills training and credentialing, and comprehensive supportive services—by leveraging existing systems and resources as well as developing new program elements.
Unlike traditional, standalone training or education programs, LISC’s Bridges to Career Opportunities is contextualized (meaning that the curriculum incorporates industry-specific content into fundamental math, literacy or English lessons) and built on the integrated services delivery platform of the CWF. The package of core CWF services helps ensure that clients are able to address personal and social barriers throughout their academic and career path.
The following sites within the Greater Detroit CWF Network are operating the Bridges to Career Opportunity program:
SER Metro Detroit
Southwest Economic Solutions