Center for Workforce Initiatives

Award Year:
Investment Term: 2017 - 2019
Investment Type:
Investment Amount:
Outcome Area:

Center for Workforce Initiatives

Investee Background

The Center for Workforce Initiatives (CWI) is a workforce program convener operated by the Community College of Denver that connects employers, workers, students, local nonprofits and other community members to sustainable employment pathways within targeted industries. To help capitalize on its role as a regional economic driver by connecting residents of local communities to the $1.2 billion Central 70 Project, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is partnering with CWI to meet the Central 70 expansion project’s local hire requirement of 4,000 workers over the next two years, 43 percent of which are likely to be low-income, working parents. These workers, who must live in the communities along the I-70 corridor, will be trained and placed into construction jobs that support the I-70 expansion. For the fragmented Denver workforce ecosystem, Central 70’s local hire provision creates new demand for a collaborative effort to meet the needs of a newly mobilized workforce that requires a sustainable structure of communication, cooperation and mutually-reinforcing activities to support all participating organizations. This was the catalyst needed to elevate the project-based work of CWI to industry-level collective impact so that it can take on the demand for providing more than 30,000 skilled workers over the next 10 to 20 years.

Why We Invested

The metro Denver region has experienced rapid growth that has adversely impacted many low-income communities through rising housing costs and displacement. Our partnership with CWI and CDOT takes advantage of the state’s intention to use economic development opportunities, like the Central 70 expansion project, to benefit low-skilled, low-income working parents by providing them with meaningful pathways to jobs with middle-class wages. Our support will help expand CWI and establish it as the backbone organization of metro Denver’s first collective impact workforce platform. To ensure the integration of a two-generation approach, as well as mitigate barriers for employees participating in CWI’s programs, our investment will create a dedicated funding stream for a network of child care centers along the I-70 corridor, where CWI will focus the majority of its efforts. By offering supportive services like child care, we can help ensure the success of the parents who want to do more for themselves and their families.

Expected Impact

Being born into poverty can severely restrict a child’s opportunities in life. But research shows that boosting families’ income, and helping them build assets, improves children’s short- and long-term education, health and economic outcomes. Programs like CWI, which promote job training and entrepreneurship, lead to meaningful economic advancement for families living in low-income communities that are vulnerable to gentrification and displacement, providing them with the resources they need to stay in their homes, support their children and share in the benefits of Denver’s overall economic expansion. In addition, CWI’s new collective impact platform will be a longer-term solution to issues in Colorado’s workforce development ecosystem. By fostering collaboration across government, business, philanthropy, nonprofit organizations and community residents, this platform will help metro Denver’s workforce ecosystem work better for low-income working parents, employers and the agencies that serve them—both now and in the future.