National designation for local workforce collaborative

Manatee and Sarasota County will become the nation’s newest National Fund for Workforce Solutions site, thanks to work by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative of Manatee & Sarasota (CEFC), formerly known as the Manatee Sarasota Workforce Funders Collaborative.

CareerEdge is the only Nationally Designated Funder for Workforce Solutions inFlorida.

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is delighted to welcome CareerEdge into our national network of innovative workforce development initiatives,” said Fred Dedrick, Executive Director for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. “Manatee andSarasota Counties are excellent examples of how communities can pull together great leaders to develop smart strategies to address the very serious problems of unemployment and skill deficits.  Their strong emphasis on working directly with employers combined with the dedicated commitment of many community partners has raised to date over $2.5 million in regional support to match the three year NFWS grant of $450,000, bodes well for their success.”

Manatee and Sarasota counties will benefit from the national designation the addition of   $450,000 in new grant money will expand career opportunities for our residents and connect our counties with other innovative regions throughout the United States.  “CareerEdge represents the new “out of the box” thinking we need to build the foundation for a new regional economy,” said Teri Hansen, President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice and an initial investor in CareerEdge.

CareerEdge is dedicated to preparing low-skilled workers in the two-county region for higher paying jobs in the fields of healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and technology industries.

CareerEdge is the first of its kind in the Southeastern United States and will be connected to private-philanthropic contributors including Microsoft, Hitachi, and Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L Knight Foundation and others.

Nearly 200 funders nationwide are investing millions of dollars in local communities to help get people back to work and ensure that American businesses are able to compete, said Steve Queior, President of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

“CareerEdge both leverages existing workforce development activities and fills a void where programs with very specific criteria can’t meet our community’s needs,” he said. “The initiative’s flexibility to target resources where they will make the most positive impacts for both workers and employers is truly an asset in the Sarasota and Manatee Counties region.”

CareerEdge was formed in 2009 by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency, the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice Inc., Bank of America and the Manatee County Action Agency. Mark Pritchett, Vice President of Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, Inc. serves as Co-Chairman and is charged with fiscal oversight of the initiative. Sherod Halliburton, Executive Director of the Bradenton Central CRA serves as the other Co-Chairman and is charged with oversight of the operations of the initiative.  CareerEdge is housed and operates out of the offices of the Bradenton Central CRA.  Other funders include Suncoast Workforce, SarasotaCounty, and Sarasota Newtown CRA.

“The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation are pleased to be an investor in CareerEdge,” said Damian Thorman, National Program Director for Knight Foundation and incoming chair of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. “The collaborative allows us to partner with other community stakeholders in Manatee and Sarasotacounties who are dedicated to moving low-wage individuals into careers with a living wage and to providing employers with access to the skilled labor they need. This local commitment builds on Knight Foundation’s investment in the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and in local collaborative’ in Detroit, Philadelphia and Wichita.”

Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston said he’s thrilled that the Bradenton Central CRA is the first public entity to ever serve as a lead organization for a National Fund site. “That speaks to Bradenton’s commitment to participate in projects that develop the economic capacity of our residents and strengthens the region as a whole,” he added.