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JOIN's big announcement should be a "Win-Win" for the region

Jim Mergiotti, President and CEO of Peirce College

JOIN's Jennie Sparandara

Keith Leaphart, owner of Replica Creative

Last week, Flying Kite partnered with the Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN) on an event featuring some very big news. 

In keeping with their mission to improve human capital in the Philadelphia region, JOIN announced the Win-Win Challenge, a tremendous opportunity for innovative employers and institutions to deploy and experiment with best practices in workforce development. The program will provide resources -- information, technical assistance and funding -- to promising partnerships. JOIN expects to award four planning grants (up to $50,000) and up to two two-year implementation grants (up to $300,000) to partnerships demonstrating the greatest potential for success. (Click here for the Request for Proposals.)

Held at Replica Creative near Rittenhouse, the informal networking shindig also included a short talk by Jim Mergiotti, president and CEO of Peirce College. He emphasized that his school is very much "in the workforce development business," educating and training the $40,000 to $60,000 per year worker -- "something you can't import," according to Mergiotti. 

He is particularly energized by a partnership with Year Up, an organization founded in Boston that fosters one-year programs for students ages 18 to 24 who have not found success in the traditional system. The program provides an intensive first year of college at no cost to the student; at Peirce, participants are also placed in six-month paid internships. In the 2014/15 fiscal year, there will be 100 students in the program at Peirce.

Showcasing the innovation at Peirce is one example of what JOIN Director Jennie Sparandara, who also spoke at the event, called, "highlighting success, so people can replicate the outcomes." JOIN hopes their upcoming grantees will provide more powerful models.

If you want to learn more about workforce development in Philadelphia, check out our recent Special Edition, co-produced with JOIN.

LEE STABERT is managing editor of Flying Kite and Keystone Edge.

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