Connecting employers seeking talent with West Philadelphians seeking opportunity.

About WPSI

Our Story


The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) was created in 2011 as an innovative response to the dichotomies of Philadelphia’s economy. In spite of large swaths of substantial growth driven by anchor institutions and private employers, Philadelphia remains the poorest big city in America. Our work bridges this gap by building a talent management solution that connects Philadelphians seeking opportunity with employers seeking talent.

WPSI works closely with its employer partners to understand their talent challenges and aspirations. We recruit, assess, select, train and place residents in career-ladder jobs that offer stability and opportunities for advancement.

Since WPSI’s inception, program participants who had previously been unemployed for an average of 53 weeks have gone on to earn more than $30 million in collective wages while increasing employers' productivity and excellence. 




Here at the Skills Initiative, we take data very seriously. We constantly collect and analyze data and feedback in order to drive program improvements that better serve participants and employer partners. We are pleased to share that our efforts to connect talent to opportunity have yielded transformational results for employers, jobseekers, and our community.




Our Team


The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative is staffed by individuals who are committed to the success of both jobseekers and employers.


As Executive Director of the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, Sarah Steltz oversees and leads UCD’s efforts to connect talented residents to University City’s explosive economic growth.

Patrick Bayer is our Senior Manager for Economic Development and Analysis, and works to assess the program’s overall effectiveness through the development of formal evaluation metrics.  

Caitlin Garozzo is our Director of Programs, designing and managing the WPSI participant experience both during and after the program.

Fontaine Gutierrez is our Manager of Outreach and Communications, working across the team to increase the effectiveness of WPSI’s business practices.

Mariya Khandros is the Project Manager, evaluating how to replicate the WPSI model so that it can be implemented in other parts of the city and expand the program's impact.

Joshua Park is the Senior Manager of Employer Services, managing and improving the full employer partner experience while also overseeing jobseeker recruitment, assessment, and selection for each cohort.

Tiffany Smith is the Coordinator of Alumni Services, working with participants and alumni to connect them to supportive resources and services.

Romaine Thrower is the Manager of Employer Services, monitoring the recruitment team to guide candidates from application to selection and support our employer partners with a smoother onboarding process.

Jennine White is the Coordinator of Operations and Administration.



WPSI’s investors are crucial partners and visionary funders who have joined with us to make this program a reality. We thank the following organizations and institutions for making pivotal investments in the vitality of West Philadelphia’s communities:

  • ACE Charitable Foundation
  • Bank of America Foundation
  • Barra Foundation
  • Claneil Foundation
  • Citi Foundation
  • Citizens Bank Foundation
  • Connelly Foundation
  • Department of Community and Economic Development through the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity
  • Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation
  • Equal Measure
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Job Opportunity Investment Network
  • The Lenfest Foundation
  • Lincoln Financial Foundation
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • McLean Contributionship
  • Patricia Kind Family Foundation
  • Pew Charitable Trusts
  • The Philadelphia Foundation
  • Samuel S. Fels Fund
  • United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey
  • Wexford Science + Technology
  • Wells Fargo Foundation

Impact Report

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