Brooklyn Workforce Innovations (BWI)’s mission is to empower low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by helping them gain access to living-wage employment opportunities and career paths, and to develop programs that counter prevailing market inequalities. Annually, its programs serve more than 800 residents who are recruited from communities across the city where a persistently high population of unemployed and underemployed low-income people face economic challenges. BWI’s training approach combines industry-specific “hard skills” with the job readiness “soft skills” that are essential for job success and retention, and it maintains ongoing partnerships with employers to identify in-demand positions, develop relevant curriculum, and place graduates, who typically garner wages averaging $13.25 - $15.50 an hour. Annually, BWI helps 86% percent of more than 750 graduates secure employment in the five sectors in which they were trained: TV and film production, cable installation, skilled woodworking and fabrication, commercial driving, and janitorial and building maintenance for New York City Housing Authority properties. BWI has also launched a satellite at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where it is working with other job training and adult education providers and Navy Yard employers to develop customized training programs that match emerging job opportunities at the expanding commercial and industrial complex. It is also a partner—along with Fifth Avenue Committee, Red Hook Initiative, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation—in the Stronger Together collective impact initiative to improve economic self-sufficiency in Gowanus and Red Hook Houses.
To track participant outcomes, BWI has invested in the development and implementation of a centralized database system using the Social Solutions Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) software platform. Beyond using ETO to meet the rigorous data requirements of its various funders, BWI executive staff and program teams— supported by technical consultants—have customized the system to support on-going program management, quality improvement, and internal assessment. As a learning organization, BWI synthesizes information about program participation, outcomes, and demographic trends to fine-tune its recruitment strategies and program elements to help ensure that the participants who can benefit most from BWIs training programs apply and complete them; transition successfully to new employment opportunities and potential careers; and retain and/or advance in their positions.