JPMorgan Chase Foundation Awards $339,000 Grant to West Philadelphia Skills Initiative to Spur Outcomes for Justice-Involved Jobseekers

WPSI participants install planters at 30th Street Station
Jul 24, 2023 4 months ago

Today we’re thrilled to share that our West Philadelphia Skills Initiative has been awarded a significant $339,000 grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to support our program’s capacity to advance a more inclusive and supportive workforce training approach for justice-involved individuals.

Over the past decade-plus, our Skills Initiative program has evolved and expanded from humble beginnings within a community college classroom into a regional leader in equitable workforce development and partnership that, to date, has served over 1,700 participants and helped place jobseekers in positions with over 20 employer partners, and graduates of the program have earned over $90 million in combined wages. 

Despite these successes, our results show we were falling short of adequately serving program participants who have been impacted by the justice system. During FY22, 17% of WPSI’s participants were justice-involved, yet only half of them graduated, affirming that the program needs to offer these jobseekers more support and that the staff requires more professional training to serve this key demographic at the highest levels.

JP Morgan Chase has come through with resources – financial and social - to help make this possible. JP Morgan Chase’s investment is meant to spur our Skills Initiative staff to build our internal capacity, knowledge, and support systems to most effectively address this issue head-on, whether that means learning from other local agencies, communities, or individuals with more expertise or bringing on program facilitators with direct knowledge and experience working within the justice system. This work has the potential to be incredibly restorative for people’s careers and lives, and can allow us to deliver positive impacts “with” others as opposed to “to” or “for” them, building on WPSI’s supportive experience with clearly defined and strongly upheld boundaries to create a safe and impactful environment.  

We extend our deepest gratitude to JPMorgan Chase for their continued support of the Skills Initiative. With this latest grant, they have now contributed over $2 million to support our crucial work of connecting Philadelphians to career pathways with major local employers.