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Press Release: 17 Top National Workforce Development Nonprofits Identified by 121 Experts

November 28th, 2010 by Erinn Andrews Leave a reply »

A strong economy begins with a strong, well-educated workforce. -Bill Owens

The workforce development field is focused on helping people get the skills and the jobs they need to sustain themselves and their family. It’s about connecting employers who need skilled workers and ideally building a system of successful organizations because no one organization can do it all. Workforce development organizations must collectively understand the labor supply issues in a region and develop strategies for people to get jobs and businesses to get skilled workers.

I’m not sure which field “workforce development” falls into for the designations Giving USA uses to report what kinds of nonprofits receive charitable donations each year. If it falls under the category “giving for public-society benefit,” then $22.77 billion was donated in 2009 to this field making up 8% of total donations. If it falls under “human services” then $27.08 billion was given last year, or 9% of total donations. Or, if it falls under education, that was $40.01 billion, or 13 percent of the total (the total is $300 billion). (From Giving USA 2010 report.)

Given the economic crisis, we felt that workforce development was a very relevant and important field for our country right now. Therefore, Philanthropedia surveyed 121 national workforce development experts (with an average of 16 years of work experience in the field) to identify those organizations that were making the biggest impact in the field.

Philanthropedia’s experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, government officials, etc.) identified 17 top workforce development nonprofits (out of 151 total reviewed nonprofits) making an impact at the national level. We asked experts to recommend nonprofits focused on job retention/stability, advancement to better jobs, capacity and skill building, helping the formerly homeless, imprisoned, and hospitalized to move to work, and/or helping employers to invest in their own workforce. These nonprofits could work with various populations: adults with low literacy skills, adults or youth with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, youth, welfare recipients, businesses, or the community at large. And these nonprofits could focus on different kinds of activities: policy, research, advocacy, direct services, education, technical assistance, job training programs, etc. Specifically excluded from consideration were for-profit organizations such as head hunting and for-profit staff placement companies.

The following is the list of the top-recommended high-impact nonprofits working on workforce development at the national level. “Agree” is the number of experts who agree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field. “Disagree” is the number of experts who disagree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field.

17 Top High-Impact Nonprofits # of Experts who Agree # of Experts who Disagree Year Founded Location

National Skills Coalition

58 3 1998 Washington, DC

CLASP (Center for Law and Social Policy)

54 3 1969 Washington, DC

Jobs for the Future

53 2 1983 Boston,  MA

The Aspen Institute

48 3 1950 Washington, DC

Public/Private Ventures

45 1 1978 Philadelphia, PA


41 11 1902 Rockville, MD

National Network of Sector Partners (NNSP)

35 6 1999 Oakland, CA

National Governors Association (NGA)*

35 9 1908 Washington, DC

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)

29 7 1974 Chicago, IL

Seedco (Structured Employment Economic Development Corp)

27 8 1986 New York, NY

National Fund for Workforce Solutions

26 8 2007 Boston, MA

Year Up

23 5 2000 Boston, MA

Jewish Vocational Service (JVS)

27 10 1973 San Francisco, CA

Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS)

23 7 1992 Madison, WI

National Association of Workforce Boards

26 12 1998 Washington, DC

STRIVE (East Harlem Employment Services)

22 8 1985 New York, NY

Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)

18 6 1978 New York, NY

*Philanthropedia enables donors to donate to all top-recommended nonprofits, however National Governors Association, a top-recommended nonprofit, does not accept donations from individuals.

This week we will highlight the top 5 national workforce development nonprofits. We invite you to visit the profiles of each of these top organizations on our website to read the expert reviews here: Experts commented on the impact each nonprofit has had, what the nonprofit’s other organizational strengths are, and how each organization could further improve.

We also invite your feedback here and on our website. Please tell us what you think and what experiences you’ve had with these organizations!


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