How This Foundation Gets Behind Workforce Development with Matching Grants

Workforce development in the United States is in need of as much support as it can get. With small business creation down 30 percent since the Great Recession and many communities yet to recover from high unemployment, funders are stepping up efforts to help people get back on their feet in the economy.

One funder that is pushing to take matching grants to new heights with workforce development funding is the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Recently, in partnership with the Jewish Funders Network, it announced $9.3 million in total funding for a matching grant initiative intended to energize the philanthropic community in the area of workforce development.

This matching grant program is a 1:1 match intended to increase the number of funders, as well as the amount of grant dollars, supporting organizations and projects that address unemployment and underemployment for both Jewish and non-Jewish communities. The program supports 29 organizations in the United States and Israel.

The Weinberg Foundation provided $3.6 million for this initiative, and 61 foundations or individuals came to the table not only to match this money, but exceed it by another $2.1 million. The total, $9.3 million, is an impressive achievement in mobilizing new capital to tackle a pressing problem. Clearly, this was a tremendously successful matching grant event.

The matching grant initiative started in fall of 2013, and since then, Weinberg has matched qualifying grants in the U.S. and Israel between $20,000 and $100,000. 

This partnership shows how effectively an incentive like matching funds can generate new donation revenue. It also expanded the field by attracting new funders. 

The projects funded with these matching grants in the U.S. are quite diverse. Here are some examples:

  • Green City Force: Brooklyn, NY
    $100,000 Weinberg grant matched by $100,000 to support this organization that prepares young adults in AmeriCorps for jobs in energy conservation and urban agriculture.
  • JCS Career Center Baltimore: Baltimore, MD
    $245,000 Weinberg grant matched by $245,000 (from six JFN members) to support this organization that offers comprehensive employment services to clients, including workers over the age of 50, people with disabilties, single female heads of households, veterans returning from duty, and immigrants.
  • JVS San Francisco: San Francisco, CA—$235,500 Weinberg grant matched by $316,800 (from five JFN members) to support the expansion of this organization's services for the long-term unemployed, including a full range of job readiness, technical training, and placement services.
  • Per ScholasBronx, NY—$100,000 Weinberg grant matched by $200,000 to support the Software Testing Education Program, an eight-week course that trains participants for entry-level software testing jobs.
  • Saint Paul EMS Academy: St. Paul, MN—$30,000 Weinberg grant matched by $30,000 to support the City of St. Paul's program that provides individuals with emergency medical training and job placement.
  • ServiceSource: Alexandria, VA—$160,000 Weinberg capital grant matched by $175,000 (from three JFN members) to support this organization's $15 million campaign to create the National CapitalArea Disabilitiy Resource Center.
  • StepUp Ministry: Raleigh, NC—$100,000 Weinberg grant matched by $100,000 to support an interfaith organization that provides low-income and homeless individuals with life and job skills training.
  • STRIVE: New York, NY—$418,000 Weinberg grant matched by $733,000 (from ten JFN members) to support efforts to help individuals overcome barriers to employment through job readiness, skills training, job placement, and job retention.

The full list of grantees is available here.