In 2005, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation (Women’s Foundation) launched the Stepping Stones Initiative, a multi-year grant program that invests in “community-based organizations working to increase the economic security of low-income women and girls….Since its inception, Stepping Stones has granted over $7 million to more than 50 community-based organizations focused on workforce development, asset building, early care and education, and research and advocacy” (p.3-4). “As part of The Women’s Foundation’s investments in workforce development, Stepping Stones has invested in several nonprofit organizations offering women training in nontraditional occupations“(p.4).
“The Women’s Foundation used an independent consultant to complete a case study of investments made between July 2005 and June 2011, to help examine the effectiveness of these investments and to inform the Foundation’s strategies moving forward. This report serves as a summary of several key findings useful to providers, funders, and policymakers interested in workforce development and the economic security of low-income women” (p.4).
Major Findings & Recommendations
“Based on this information, several themes and key program components emerged, and were found to directly impact the outcomes of workforce development programs for low-income women…” (p.9). • “Organizations located in low-income neighborhoods, or those that have strong partnerships with particular communities, are better able to recruit and retain clients” (p.10). • “Case management and other support services are critical to participant success” (p.10). • “Job retention and employment specialists are an essential and often missing element for participant success” (p.12). • “Training and advancement need to address basic skills and post-secondary education needs. Build partnerships with community colleges and employers” (p.13). • “Despite challenges documented in this study, [the author] still concludes that it proved instrumental to make these investments with a gender lens” (p.14). (Abstractor: Author)