New York – The Citi Foundation is investing $10 million in the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to help connect unemployed and underemployed Americans with jobs in growth industries that need trained workers, including healthcare, transportation, technology, construction and other industries facing shortages of skilled workers.
The Citi Foundation's investment in the Bridges to Career Opportunities initiative ("Bridges") 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.
Through an expanded network of local sites across the U.S., job seekers will have access to a range of services designed to increase their incomes, improve their credit and raise their standards of living. These services not only include skills training and career development, but also personal finance coaching, continued education courses to strengthen math and reading skills, and resources to help job seekers secure child care and housing arrangements which can serve as impediments to career mobility.
Citi CEO Michael Corbat said: "It is important to recognize that globalization and technology, for all of their benefits, have also come at a cost to many in our country. The U.S. job market has changed and American workers need both new skills and a support system that allows them to participate in training programs. The Citi Foundation and LISC partnership will help American workers who have been or are in danger of being displaced, which in turn will help American businesses compete and the U.S. economy grow."
Many of the new sites will be located in areas that have been designated Opportunity Zones, a new federal incentive to increase investments in low-wealth communities as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The foundation's investment will help job seekers prepare to take advantage of job opportunities resulting from this new incentive.
"Every American should have the opportunity to reach their full economic potential regardless of their zip code," said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan). "This investment from the Citi Foundation and LISC will work within the Opportunity Zone framework to help job seekers acquire the skills they need to advance to the next level in their careers, and support economic development and revitalization in communities across the country."
"This is fantastic news that demonstrates the type of activity I was aiming to inspire with my Opportunity Zone legislation," said U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina). "I grew up in poverty and have a firsthand understanding and appreciation of the difference job training and workforce development could have on a community. I am appreciative of Citi's initiative to direct millions of dollars to workforce development programs in areas of high potential."
"The Bridges approach is a powerful strategy combining financial empowerment, work supports, and industry-specific job preparation that equips unemployed and underemployed individuals for living wage jobs and careers," said Maurice A. Jones, LISC's CEO and president. "This new collaboration with the Citi Foundation helps us dramatically expand the Bridges program as part of a comprehensive effort to catalyze economic and financial opportunity so that people can earn more, save more and grow the economy."
With this new funding, LISC will expand the Bridges model to a total of 40 communities across the U.S., and aim to serve 10,000 job seekers over the next three years.
Paulette Arnold is one of the many job seekers who have benefited from working with LISC. A single parent who served a total of 10 years in the Navy and Army, she worked a series of mostly part-time and seasonal jobs, ranging from corrections officer to school cook to support her four school-aged children. She happened upon a flyer advertising a pre-construction apprenticeship, and was soon enrolled in classes at a LISC center in San Diego, where she improved her math and reading skills, worked one-on-one with a financial coach to manage her debt and improve her credit score. Within five months, she applied and was accepted into a union apprentice job at leading construction company—a rigorous process Arnold's career coach helped guide her through. With a starting wage of $15.80 an hour, Paulette will earn an increase of two dollars an hour every six months after completing her apprenticeship classes and on-the-job training. Additionally, in just one year, she has increased her credit score from 534 to nearly 600, and resolved six onerous debt collections that totaled some $40,000.
Over the next six months, LISC will begin selecting a mix of urban and rural communities across the country where the Bridges model will be expanded.
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 www.citifoundation.com.
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 www.lisc.org.
Elizabeth Kelly, 212-559-2477