Support from Hummingbird Foundation Helps Skills Initiative Launch WPSI University to Further Advance Alumni

Honorees from our 2022 WPSI Ten Year Anniversary
Jan 09, 2023 15 months ago

This week, the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) is thrilled to announce the launch of WPSI University, our new program to offer continued workplace education and academic advancement for our graduates, equipping them with the tools and credentials they need to advance in the 21st-century workplace. This new enterprise is supported by a generous $150,000 grant from the Hummingbird Foundation, a New Jersey-based charitable organization.

The goal of WPSI University is to support alumni in their post-graduate professional journeys as they move up the career ladder. We want to further assist them in earning thriving wages and accelerating financial stability by bringing together disparate alumni services we currently offer, while providing an entirely new set of offerings around college completion and academic credentialing.

“In our now ten-plus years of operating, WPSI has proven to be an industry leader in placing those with limited post-secondary credentials in their first life-changing jobs,” says Cait Garozzo, executive director for the Skills Initiative. “But now we want to address the question of what happens next—how these talented workers can continue developing as professionals in the 21st century workplace.”

Participants in our signature programming for frontline workers and our incumbent workers are talented and ambitious, and desire to take their careers to new heights. After years of experience, we know that next steps for each individual will look different based on their skills, the requirements of the job fields in which they are pursuing advancement, and many other factors. WPSI University is the vehicle that will provide the capacity to help our alumni parse through all the options, while streamlining pathways to continuing education and career advancement.

To accomplish these goals, WPSI University will be comprised of three interconnected functions:

  • Continuing education and credentialing partnerships with employers to assist their “incumbent workers” in moving up the job ladder through internal promotions.
  • The creation of a network of partnerships with local colleges and the launch of comprehensive alumni coaching services that allow WPSI graduates with some college credit but no degree to return to school online in order to complete their bachelor’s degree and augment their earning power in the workforce.
  • Expansion of the WPSI Scholars, a competitive program that offers last-dollar scholarships to WPSI alum to enroll in academic and workforce education programs. Click here to read more about our 2021 and 2022 classes of WPSI Scholars. 


"We had a vision for some time to accelerate and deepen the work we do with our graduates, and the Hummingbird Foundation – with its very entrepreneurial and inquisitive approach to economic opportunity – stepped in quickly to help us launch this important endeavor,” noted UCD President Matt Bergheiser. “We couldn’t be more grateful to Hummingbird, both for the seed funding, and for a discovery process that made our ideas stronger and clearer.”

By adding a robust set of post-placement continuing education programs to our already transformative job training programs, WPSI University will help us advance careers and possibilities for many hundreds of WPSI alumni in the years to come. We look forward to WPSI University aiding the general mission of University City District to change places and change lives.