LISC National

Duluth Community Organization Receives Funding Through the Citi Foundation and LISC



Community Action Duluth will use grants to help underemployed and unemployed workers prepare for skilled positions in healthcare, manufacturing

DULUTH—The Citi Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) announced new funding through the Bridges to Career Opportunities (BCO) initiative to help connect underemployed and unemployed people in Duluth to quality jobs in growth industries that are struggling to attract qualified workers in a tight labor market.

Community Action Duluth has been awarded $170,000 and technical support to provide services helping job seekers increase their incomes, improve their credit and raise their standards of living. Services include skills training and career development, as well as personal finance coaching, continuing education courses (to strengthen math and reading skills), and resources to help job seekers secure transportation, child care and housing arrangements, which can be impediments to career mobility.

The new funding is part of a $10 million three-year national effort by the Citi Foundation and LISC to expand the reach of BCO and spur economic opportunity for thousands of families, including 175 workers in Duluth.

"In Duluth, we are committed to investing in the well-being of our people and our communities, said Mayor Emily Larson. "The Citi Foundation and Duluth LISC are helping strengthen our workforce and provide new pathways to employment, which in turn contribute to our long-term economic growth. It is an investment in our future that will pay off for years to come."

Community Action Duluth is using the funds to expand its education programs and training in the healthcare and manufacturing fields. Efforts will include helping people gain the skills they need to move from entry-level certified nursing assistant (CNA) positions into more advanced educational programs and positions, such as registered nurses (RNs). In manufacturing, Community Action Duluth will with work with local manufacturing partners to create a work readiness training program to help job seekers enter skilled manufacturing jobs, which may include machinists and welders.

“With this new funding from the Citi Foundation and LISC, we will be able to help job seekers build the work skills they need to earn higher wages and find pathways to advancement, while also helping businesses improve employee retention,” said Jeff Longenecker, executive director of Community Action Duluth.

Community Action Duluth is among 40 community-based nonprofits to be awarded funding through this program (a full listing of participating organizations can be found here.). Notably, more than half of the sites, including Community Action Duluth, are located in Opportunity Zones, a federal incentive to increase investments in low-wealth communities as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

“The demands of today’s U.S. job market are playing out in different ways for American workers and we need to support those who are being negatively impacted by the forces that are shaping the modern economy,” said Ed Skyler, executive vice president for global public affairs at Citi and chair of the Citi Foundation. “By connecting programs that provide not only education and skills building, but support services for family and housing needs, we’re helping American workers who have been or are in danger of being displaced achieve success and contribute to their communities.”

The majority of people who enter the BCO program are either unemployed or working in minimum wage jobs. After BCO, more than three-quarters of participants move on to occupational skills training and 64 percent achieve industry-recognized credentials—opening doors to living wage jobs they would not otherwise be able to access and putting them on career pathways with the opportunity for ongoing advancement. In the last two years alone, more than 3,000 training participants across the country have been placed in jobs.

“It is essential that businesses, community organizations and city officials all work together to eliminate barriers to employment so that businesses can attract the workers they need and families can raise their standards of living,” said Pam Kramer, executive director of Duluth LISC.  “With this new funding from the Citi Foundation, we can help more families become self-sufficient, help businesses fill vacant positions, and ensure that our communities are strong and growing."

The Citi Foundation’s investment in BCO builds on a decades-long relationship between the Foundation and LISC. It also signals an expansion of Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative beyond youth-focused career readiness to provide adult job seekers the full range of services needed for long-term employment.


About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit

About LISC

With residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. Since 1979, LISC has invested $18.6 billion to build or rehab 376,000 affordable homes and apartments and develop 63 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. To learn more, visit or www.