The following sample of FutureWorks projects illustrates the kind of work we do to promote sustainable, skill-based regional economic growth.
The projects are organized into two major categories:
- National Best Practice, Evaluation, and Strategic Planning, and
- Building Skilled-based City and Regional Economies
Complete College America: FutureWorks is supporting the national roll-out of Complete College America's effort to significantly increase the number of Americans with a college degree or credential. Started in 2009, CCA has brought its ideas and convening power to 24 states. Now as a national movement, FutureWorks is working on behalf of CCA to assist more than a dozen states to implement new policy and models that increase attainment rates and close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.
Fund for Our Economic Future Assessment: FutureWorks recently completed an assessment with the Fund for Our Economic Future that is leading to new strategies and structure of this 53-member philanthropic collaborative. The assessment helped the Fund examine its role in the regional economic development landscape and determine effective approaches to achieve its goals to advance business growth, talent development, social inclusion, and government efficiency.
Talent Dividend Network: Supported by the Ford Foundation, FutureWorks designed and led a national learning network of cross-sector leadership teams in major U.S. cities focused on achieving postsecondary attainment gains. The program builds on the Talent Dividend initiative launched in 2008 by CEOs for Cities. The Talent Dividend shows the concrete economic pay-offs and ties to metro prosperity with a focus on “growing your own” local talent. FutureWorks helped these cities achieve their Talent Dividend goal through learning how best to mobilize regional leadership and organize for success, examination of approaches to postsecondary attainment with national experts, facilitation with the metrics of data-driven change, and sharing promising strategies from around the U.S.
National Fund for Workforce Solutions Evaluation: FutureWorks staff is a part of the national evaluation team and providing technical assistance to this $30 million, 23-city/region effort to improve employment, training, and labor market outcomes for low-income individuals. Our work with the National Fund brings us into a technical assistance role with regions that are seeding new regional funders collaboratives. These collaboratives are investing in public-private partnerships to achieve better jobs, better workers, and better workforce development systems for the economy.
America Works Initiative: This Walmart Foundation initiative developed more effective and systemic approaches to putting people back to work. Each of the seven grantees used their Walmart funding to leverage larger-scale changes in their workforce development systems that directly supported efforts to grow the economy in their region. The initiative builds on the U.S. Department of Labor’s WIRED initiative, and included several former WIRED sites. See the America Works project page here for more on each of the regions involved.
Regional Growth and Opportunity Initiative: This study of what regions are doing focused on how they grow their economies, where the leadership is coming from for those efforts, and how workforce issues are being addressed as part of that process. The study team conducted in-depth case studies of a dozen regions, and organized three roundtables of regional leaders and national experts, in partnership with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and the Council on Competitiveness, to supplement their findings, outlined in the report “Building Regional Partnerships for Growth and Opportunity.” The initiative was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Ford Fellowship for Regional Sustainable Development: From 2006 through 2010 FutureWorks designed, provided content, and delivered on-going technical expertise to a network of high-level executives of business-civic organizations and chamber of commerce representing more than 100 cities and regions across the country. During the Fellowship these leaders defined market-driven action agendas to pursue sustainable and inclusive regional development. FutureWorks supported the Fellowship in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce Executives and the Ford Foundation.
WorkNet: The Consortium on Regional Workforce Development: Brian Bosworth managed a national learning consortium of workforce development related organizations from Cleveland, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Louisville. The lead organizations forming the Consortium were not uniform in mission or function, but each took a leadership responsibility in its region for reforming workforce development systems to strengthen employer involvement and promote regional approaches. The regional teams typically included officials from workforce investment boards, two-year colleges, business groups, economic development organizations, and workforce policy and planning bodies. These groups financed WorkNet from their own resources.
Minding Their Civic Business - An Analysis of Innovative Practices of Regional Business-Led Organizations in Metropolitan North America: FutureWorks completed an in-depth analysis of the operations and achievements of chambers of commerce, CEO-led organizations, and boards of trade in 30 major metropolitan areas in the United States, as well as Ottawa and Toronto, Canada. The analysis produced the first comprehensive portrait of the practices employed by business-led civic organizations to improve the economic, spatial and social conditions in their regions. Included in the report were region-by-region economic profiles as well as profiles of leading practice in sustainable development among business-civic organizations.
High Skills for High Growth Careers - New Approaches to Postsecondary Career Education: FutureWorks initiated this project to explore and document new strategies and structures for postsecondary education that can better satisfy the complex occupational education needs and skill demands of the 21st century knowledge economy. This project investigated how new institutional models are beginning to emerge in response to these challenges. It compared and contrasted these emerging models and suggested the core elements of alternative institutional strategies for postsecondary occupational education. It also examined possible policy options that could accelerate effective response to these challenges. This project was funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
MetroBusinessNet: From 2000 to 2006, FutureWorks designed and convened MetroBusinessNet -- a national action-learning network composed of regional, business-based civic institutions such as chambers of commerce, CEO-led groups, and boards of trade. MetroBusinessNet was created to investigate and demonstrate how the business community can engage in an agenda of sustainable regional economic development. The founding business-based civic institutions involved in MetroBusinessNet represented corporate leadership in high-profile regions. In its capacity as network manager, FutureWorks worked closely with each organization to develop and document business practices and public policies that reflect regional development goals.
Pathways to Advancement: FutureWorks entered into a partnership with the National Governors' Association Center for Best Practices to launch this project. This was a 28-month program of research, development, and demonstration funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education. It was an "action learning academy" to work with teams of officials from eight states to help them expand postsecondary access and attainment for low-income adults. NGA and FutureWorks provided intensive technical assistance to states to develop and build political support for new and revised policies that enhance postsecondary opportunities for low wage adult students. The eight states in the project included Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Getting Serious About Lifelong Learning: Improving the Use and Value of the Hope and Lifetime Learning Tax Credits for Working Adults: With the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, FutureWorks researched the use and value of the federal Hope and Lifetime Learning higher education tax credits for working adults who engaged in postsecondary education. Using data from the Internal Revenue Service, the National Household Education Survey, and the National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey, we found that few working adult students have heard about the credits and that the credits more generously benefit tax files who claim them on behalf of dependent students. Tax filers who appear to be working adult students often get very little value from these credits. Based on these findings, we provided four policy recommendations to increase the use and value of the credits by working adult students.
Hire Up Indy Workforce Council: FutureWorks is leading a collaborative with the mayor of Indianapolis, major post secondary institutions in Central Indiana (e.g. IUPUI, Ivy Tech Community College, University of Indianapolis, and Marian University), the city’s workforce board, and a number of industry partners, to build new workforce capacity to better align students with credentials with demand from key industry drivers. The end product will be a new, sustained infrastructure that creates coordinated and ongoing alignment of postsecondary capacity with the industries that drive Central Indiana’s regional economy. The Joyce Foundation is funding the project.
Greater Portland Economic Development Strategy: FutureWorks completed a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for Greater Portland Inc and the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region. The CEDS is being used as a strategic framework for a new regional economic development partnership, formed through the merger of Regional Partners (a public-sector regional economic development organization) and Greenlight Greater Portland (a private-sector regional economic development organization). FutureWorks was also part of a consultant team that developed the first ever CEDS for the region.
Louisiana Community and Technical Education: FutureWorks managed a research and development project with the Louisiana Board of Regents and Community and Technical College system that led to new organization and delivery of postsecondary community and technical education in six regions of the state. FutureWorks worked with the community college system and local leaders in each region to identify the opportunities and challenges to increasing the postsecondary attainment aligned with the student and economic development needs of the state.
Central Wisconsin Economic Snapshot: FutureWorks helped the Workforce Central Funders Collaborative identify economic development assets in the region and develop a plan to better leverage those assets to grow new jobs. The project is a response to concern in the region that it’s not enough to simply prepare people for existing jobs adn that there needs to be a concerted and strategic effort to create new jobs. The project was funded by the local chamber of commerce, Mid-State Technical College, and the North Central Workforce Development Board.
Ivy Tech Community College - Building a 21st Century Community College: Stretching over nearly four years and funded by grants from the Lumina Foundation, FutureWorks played a significant role in the strategic planning for Ivy Tech’s transition to Indiana’s community college system in developing new initiatives that have received positive reception from Indiana government and industry leaders. First FutureWorks assisted in a series of strategic steps that help launch an alignment of program initiatives at the college with workforce needs of key sectors in Central Indiana. Then FutureWorks assisted the College in adopting a new set of strategic metrics that shifted focus dramatically from a narrow view of enrollment measurement to a new comprehensive emphasis on outcomes in graduations, credentials, and helping Indiana residents raise their levels of educational attainment. As part of the strategic direction, FutureWorks also coordinated the design of new initiatives in healthcare, advanced manufacturing, accelerated and compressed degree programs (creating the largest such effort in the nation) and innovative new programs in remediation and development education. In direct new funding alone (not including matching funds) these programs garnered about $8 million in grant funding from federal and private sources.
Portland Oregon Development Commission Comparative Funding and Economic Development Strategy: FutureWorks completed a six month engagement with the Portland Development Commission to match its new economic development strategy with alternative funding and financing resources. Our recommendations helped Portland build an aggressive economic development strategy that maintained Portland’s “first mover” status for innovative new policies that promote sustainability economic development. The platform for our strategy and recommendation came from a larger comparative analysis by FutureWorks of the financing and funding tools utilized by Portland’s peer cities.
Seattle Skills Building Initiative: A consortium of regional foundations and public agencies engaged FutureWorks to lead the design and establishment of a new “one system” approach to workforce education and training for low-income adults in the Seattle region. The goal is to double the number of low income adults gaining postsecondary credentials in just five years and remove barriers to continued expansion of education, training, and support services that work for low-income working adults. FutureWorks has helped build an investors’ collaborative to align grant-making strategies and create a pooled investment fund. FutureWorks also helped develop an employer engagement strategy and a policy advocacy agenda.
Evaluation of the Massachusetts' Industry-Workforce Partnerships: FutureWorks evaluated the Massachusetts Building Essential Skills through Training (BEST) Initiative, under contract with the Commonwealth Corporation. The BEST Initiative is a state-funded, innovative approach to incumbent worker training and career development. The industry-driven, sector-focused nature of BEST demonstrates a clear commitment among state partners to building an education and training system that meets the real needs of firms and individuals. The system reform goals contained in BEST reflect the state's ongoing commitment to reduce fragmentation and improve both the efficiency and quality of its lifelong learning system. This evaluation assessed the impact of BEST on incumbent workers, their employers, and the state and regional workforce development systems.
Greater Boston Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy: FutureWorks compiled and analyzed industry data to identify key clusters and trends of economic activity for the region’s economic development plan in 2006. The final CEDS report was submitted to the federal Economic Development Administration. The project also included a strategy to understand and increase business engagement in metro-wide economic development planning. The strategy reviewed the business civic climate in the metro region and the important regional growth and development issues that resonate with this constituency.
Manufacturing Workforce Development Analysis with Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP): FutureWorks was retained by CICP to analyze the state of workforce development and workforce education for manufacturing in central Indiana. This sector analysis assessed the short term and perceptions of long term needs in the industry, the adequacy of the workforce training system and funding, and proposed ways that CICP could generate new capacity in the workforce training system and workforce education. These recommendations helped CICP take a stronger role in workforce education and contribute some of the foundations of the new manufacturing initiative at CICP.
Coastal Enterprises Multi-Year Program Evaluation: FutureWorks is in its fifth year of evaluating the implementation of finance and job programs for this rural Maine community development finance institution. The formative evaluations are used by Coastal Enterprises to track the impact of its job generation and financing activities and make program and strategy adjustments to better meet the needs of business and the employment opportunities for hard-to-serve individuals.
Innovation Strategy for Lancaster County Community Foundation: FutureWorks facilitated a strategy planning process to assist the community foundation and its partners arrive at an investment strategy to strengthen the region’s culture of innovation. The firm conducted an assessment of opportunities and challenges in the county, designed and facilitated two strategic planning sessions with over 70 key leaders of the community, and arrived at an investment framework and recommendations.
Economic Development Strategy for Northwest Pennsylvania: FutureWorks produced an economic development strategy and action plan for an eight-county region in Northwest Pennsylvania. This region is "non-metropolitan" - mostly small towns and rural places. The client was the Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission yet the strategy focused on challenges facing all economic development institutions in the region. The project leveraged FutureWork’s previous work with the Economic Development Corporation of Erie County (EDCEC) to assist in the establishment of an economic development strategy for the one county metro region.
Industry Cluster Initiative in San Antonio: FutureWorks’ Pete Carlson guided the development of partnerships between Workforce Solutions Alamo and established industry associations in healthcare, bioscience and manufacturing to address the workforce needs in those industries. The starting point for each industry partnership was an assessment of what that industry was doing to compete regionally and globally, followed by an assessment of its workforce needs and how they were being met. The partnerships then mobilized various actors in the region to address the key issues for their particular industry.
Labor Market Analysis of Greater Washington's Health Care Industry: The Greater Washington Board of Trade commissioned FutureWorks to conduct an analysis of Greater Washington’s health care workforce. The project involved a complex data analysis of occupational and employment characteristics in the industry. It also included interviews and consensus building with industry leaders to better understand the workforce challenges, opportunities and successes for the industry in the region.