Our Initiatives

Bridges to Career Opportunities

What we do

There’s a catch-22 to unemployment in many low-income communities: basic skills gaps often prevent unemployed or underemployed residents from accessing training and credentialing programs that can lead to living-wage jobs; local industries often lack a workforce with the right blend of technical know-how and “soft” skills needed for success in the workplace. A solution lies in matching employers in need of workers with a specific skill set to job seekers who've been trained in those skills.

Bridges to Career Opportunities connect clients to real-world training in skills that local employers need.
Bridges to Career Opportunities connect clients to real-world training in skills that local employers need.

That’s what LISC’s Bridges to Career Opportunities model makes possible. Clients working with our national network of Financial Opportunity Centers (FOC) can ramp up foundational literacy and math skills, get technical training and pursue certifications for a particular industry—and receive support like financial coaching to set long-term goals and help manage expenses during training. These programs connect clients to “middle skills” jobs with a career pathway, and help local employers staff up with employees who can get the job done.

How we do it

The Bridges to Career Opportunities initiative is integrated into our Financial Opportunity Centers. Neighborhood residents can take advantage of:

  • Math, reading and/or English remediation that is industry-specific and relevant to the career track a client is pursuing. This puts adult learners on a “fast track” to upgrade or refresh their skills as preparation for technical training.
  • Vocational training at an FOC agency, community partner or local community college
  • Job-hunting skills that include resume-writing, interviewing and dressing professionally
  • “Soft skills” for the workplace like communication, conflict resolution and time management
  • Understanding of the field, such as pay and hours, work expectations
  • Ongoing support from FOC employment and financial coaches to set and achieve personal goals

By blending this training with financial coaching, clients take the reins of their economic and professional lives.
 

Clients at the Instituto del Progreso Latino FOC in Chicago
Clients at the Instituto del Progreso Latino FOC in Chicago

Growing the model

In 2013, LISC began piloting the Bridges to Career Opportunities model in six cities. Based on the promising early outcomes of those pilot projects (and several FOCs that had a long track record of success with similar work), LISC was awarded a federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant in summer 2015 to expand the Bridges to Career Opportunities model to approximately 30 community-based sites across the country. 

Building Bridges to a Stronger Workforce

A white paper from our Houston office

read the paper