Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Logo of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) will implement the Bridges to Career Opportunity Program to improve employment for low-income, hard-to-employ unskilled workers.  The local organizations funded by the program will partner with employers to ensure that the academic preparation, skills training and other provided services are relevant to local industries and employment opportunities.

Grantee Information
Federal Awards: 
$11.3 million over 3 years (2015-2017)
Focus Area: 
Economic Opportunity
Geographic Focus: 
Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati; OH; Detroit, MI; Duluth, MN; Houston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Minneapolis, MN; Newport, KY; Philadelphia, PA; Providence, RI; San Diego, CA; St. Paul, MN; Uniontown, PA
Collaborating Partners: 
Collaborating Funders: 
New Markets Support Company; State Farm; BMO Harris Bank; GCM Grosvenor; Crown


The Bridges to Career Opportunity program will provide (1) industry-contextualized academic preparation that is relevant for adult learners who have not been well-served by traditional community college and general adult basic education systems; (2) connections to middle skills training that is contextualized to locally strong industries; and (3) career coaching, financial coaching and supportive services.

LISC was previously awarded a Social Innovation Fund grant in 2010 to expand the number of individuals and families served by the innovative workforce development and asset building model called Financial Opportunity Centers. Visit their 2010 project page here.

Entities Receiving Social Innovation Fund Awards from Local Initiatives Support Corporation

District Council 1199c Training and Uprading FundJewish Vocational Services
Alliance for Multicultural ServicesJohn H. Boner Community Center
Brighton Center, Inc.Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota - Eastside Financial Center
Center for Changing LivesMetropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty of San Diego Counry
Central States SERMary Rigg Neighborhood Center
Chinese Community CenterMetropolitan Family Services
Comunidades Latinas Unidas en ServicioNorth Lawndale Employment Network
Community Action DuluthOperation ABLE
Edna Martin Christian CenterPOAH Communities
EMERGE Community DevelopmentProject for Pride in Living, Inc.
Focus: HOPERoxbury Center for Financial Empowerment
Genesis CenterSER – Jobs for Progress of the Texas Gulf Coast, Inc.
Greater Cincinnati Urban LeagueSER Metro Detroit
Instituto del Progreso LatinoSouthwest Economic Solutions
International Institute of MinnesotaThe International Rescue Committee
Jane Addams Resource CorporationWesley Community Center

District Council 1199c Training and Updrading Fund
Philadelphia, PA

District Council 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund, which has offered contextualized Bridge classes for over 20 years, is proposing to incorporate integrated services (financial coaching, employment coaching [currently offered] and income supports access [currently offered, will expand]) into its existing Bridge programming. The Fund also proposes to use LISC Bridges to Career Opportunities funding to expand the number and range of Bridge classes it offers: in addition to currently-offered Nurse Aide and Child Development Associate Bridge programs, the Fund proposes adding a Bridge to Home Health for disconnected young people; a Bridge to Behavioral Health Pre-Apprenticeship (for individuals preparing to enter an employer-sponsored, Training Fund-administered Behavioral Health Apprenticeship program); and two Vocational English as a Second Language Contextualized Bridge Programs (for non-native English speakers pursuing home health or childcare careers).

Alliance for Multicultural Services
Houston, TX

Alliance for Multicultural Services (AMCS) serves primarily refugees, immigrants and low income community residents and has selected the healthcare and childcare industries due to the availability and accessibility of these jobs for their target population.  AMCS will be striving to place participants who have largely no work experience in the United States.  AMCS will pair the supported bridge program with targeted financial products such as Individual Development Accounts and Small Business Administration loans which are provided in-house.

Brighton Center, Inc.

Newport, KY

Brighton Center will expand, deepen, and strengthen bridge services as a part of their integrated services delivery model at their nationally accredited Center for Employment Training (CET). CET provides hands-on skill specific training in the areas of Business & Computer Technology, Medical Assisting, and Construction & Manufacturing Technologies. Over the next three years, Brighton Center will to work intensively to increase the net income, net worth and credit scores of an expanded number of bridge participants.

Center for Changing Lives
Chicago, IL

Having successfully operated an integrated service delivery model since 2006, Center for Changing Lives (CCL) seeks to build its capacity to provide clients greater access to higher paying jobs and career pathways. Through a Bridges to Careers Social Innovation Fund grant, CCL will enhance its current course offerings on computer basics, computer mechanics and operating systems to offer an Information Technology (IT) Bridge that cultivates the basic and academic skills needed to achieve long-term success in information technology training and careers. CCL’s current course offerings and its future IT Bridge offerings are fully embedded within CCL’s existing integrated service delivery model, ensuring all IT Bridge clients receive employment, financial and income supports services.

Central States SER
Chicago, IL

Central States SER, Jobs for Progress, Inc. will build upon its extensive experience as a LISC-funded Financial Opportunity Center and its innovative integration of the three components of FOC services into its WIA/WIOA-funded Garfield Workforce Center, along with its proven experience delivering a healthcare bridge program, to launch yet another blending – of Bridge and integrated services delivery in the East Garfield Park community of Chicago. This approach will allow SER to further innovate its Bridge efforts and more importantly bring the foundational skills preparation, industry-recognized and credentialed skills training, coaching and support services and career ladder progressing to the population it targets in its existing services.

Chinese Community Center

Houston, TX

Chinese Community Center’s expansion plan involves (1) adding a new bridge program to facilitate entry to the general office support specialist career pathway (business sector); (2) expanding its employer network and developing an industry advisory board; (3) increasing employer engagement opportunities, such as inviting employers to serve as guest speakers and facilitating conversations around employers’ workforce needs; (4) developing robust on-the-job training/internship opportunities in each sector for which CCC provides training (healthcare, business, and technology);and (5) adding a mentorship program to pair clients with professional mentors who will help them develop and advance their careers through ongoing consultation. Through this grant, CCC will work closely with the community college to inform curriculum to best meet the needs of their clients.

Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio

St. Paul, MN

Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES) will develop and implement Bridge programming that will support unemployed and underemployed job-seekers with limited English language literacy, job skills, and/or academic skills to be successful in two in-demand, high wage career pathways: 1) Customer Service, with a focus on careers in call centers and office/reception, and 2) Finishing Trades, such as painting and drywall finishing. These programs will be incorporated within the full suite of bundled financial coaching, career coaching and income supports services that CLUES currently provides through the Integrated Service Delivery model. Participants will be also be provided the opportunity to participate in CLUES Lending Circles program in order to build assets and strengthen their credit history.

Community Action Duluth

Duluth, MN

Community Action Duluth (CAD) will enhance and expand its existing successful Financial Opportunity Center integrated services to create living wage career pathway opportunities for people with low incomes.  CAD will offer bundled services alongside bridge GED and ABE family-friendly twice weekly evening classes with contextualized training in banking, and direct service and office health care careers- all with career ladder opportunities.  Financial and employment coaches will be actively engaged with class participants, supports will include: dinner and childcare for evening classes, extensive job and financial coaching, paid tests, fees, uniforms and tuition, and access to financial products.

Edna Martin Christian Center

Indianapolis, IN

As an existing integrated services provider, Edna Martin Christian Center plans to build out its bridge programming in four sectors: welding, logistics, culinary and hospitality. Through these pathways, EMCC will serve 80 to 115 people per year to prepare for and enter vocational training, obtain and retain jobs and increase net income, net worth and credit score. 

EMCC serves families on the Near Northside of Indianapolis and in the Martindale-Brightside area. This funding will allow EMCC to integrate financial coaching and income supports with contextualized bridge curriculum.

EMERGE Community Development

Minneapolis, MN

The EMERGE Advanced Manufacturing Bridge will enhance and expand its existing Supported Bridge and Integrated Service Delivery programming targeting low-income residents of North Minneapolis and surrounding areas for entry into living wage machining and welding careers. A unique co-located collaboration of EMERGE, Hennepin Technical College, and Minneapolis Adult Education, the project anticipates bridging 180 students over a three year period via six to ten month cohorts that results in the attainment of math and reading literacy, industry credentials, postsecondary certifications, and high-demand careers in the local skilled manufacturing sector.

Focus: HOPE

Detroit, MI

Focus: HOPE will develop a contextualized bridge program and integrate it with its established Financial Opportunity Center.  The contextualized Ready, Set, Go program will deepen financial literacy and move participants along career and academic pathways in the manufacturing sector and information technology fields.  Focus HOPE has a long track record of offering well-regarded manufacturing and technology trainings on-site at its Detroit campus, and the bridge program will help facilitate access to those trainings (as well as trainings offered by other workforce partners in Detroit) for neighborhood residents who have been unable to access vocational training due to skills/basic education gaps.

Genesis Center

Providence, RI

Genesis Center is a leader in adult education and workforce development. Funding through the SIF will support and enhance its bridge and integrated service delivery programs to enable its diverse, low-income learners gain the skills and knowledge to successfully transition into family-supporting employment in high-demand occupations. Genesis has been offering contextualized job training and Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) supports since 2011. to provide unemployed, underemployed, and financially vulnerable residents with foundational literacy and numeracy skills, job readiness, computer instruction, and industry-focused training to enter employment and a start a career path primarily in the culinary or health care sectors, both of which are solid drivers of the Rhode Island economy with projected growth. Genesis’s BCO programming will strengthen its existing model through increased employer engagement, augment its growing e-learning modules, and increase the number of learners served.

Greater Cincinnati Urban League

Cincinnati, OH

Greater Cincinnati Urban League will enhance its existing “Construction Connections” program to include a contextualized curriculum designed to support the foundational skill development in the areas of reading and math for individuals desiring to enter the Construction Industry Career Pathway. These additional supports will be provided in the context of a Pre-Apprenticeship program. These services will be provided in an integrated service delivery model via GCUL’s Financial Opportunity Center.

Instituto del Progreso Latino

Chicago, IL

Instituto del Progreso Latino (Instituto) will formally integrate its healthcare and manufacturing bridge programs with the services its FOC offers in order to provide its clients with seamless access to all services. Instituto will ensure that all clients are formally introduced to the FOC and participate in all aspects of the program, especially one-on-one meetings with FOC coaches. Instituto will show that combining services in this way will make it possible to address financial issues that may impinge on clients’ ability to reach their training and career goals. In sum, Instituto will enhance the benefits already offered by its award-winning, nationally-recognized bridge programs, resulting in a program in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

International Institute of Minnesota

St. Paul, MN

Through the Medical Careers Pathway for New Americans, the International Institute of Minnesota has been providing New Americans with job training programs, college readiness classes, employment placement services, and career upgrade navigation that lead to entry-level and advanced jobs as Nursing Assistants, Phlebotomy Technicians, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Registered Nurses. With this grant, the Institute, in collaboration with local colleges, will expand the academic bridge and support classes that will improve their chances for admission into nursing programs. Both those who are trained and find employment as nurses, and those on the lower rungs of the career ladder need additional assistance in improving their net income and net worth. Hiring financial coaches through this grant will allow the Pathway to further integrate the spectrum of academic, employment, and financial services to International Institute’s clients.

Jane Addams Resource Corporation
Chicago, IL

Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC) offers bridge programming for adults who want careers in manufacturing or those who want to build careers in multiple sectors where digital literacy and customer-focused servicing skills are required. JARC offers three different contextualized bridge programs at its locations in Ravenswood and Austin, which include: Manufacturing Bridge, Press Brake Bridge, and Career Management Course Bridge, which focuses on digital literacy and job readiness training. All bridge program participants receive integrated services which include income supports, employment services and a robust set of financial services and financial education. JARC believes that taking a holistic approach to integrated support services in tandem with offering high-quality career pathways training for basic skills-deficient adults is the key to becoming financially capable over the long term for individuals and their families.

Jewish Vocational Services

Boston, MA

Jewish Vocational Services Bridges to College and Careers (JBCC) prepares low-income, low-skilled individuals in the Greater Boston area for entrance to and completion of industry-recognized college credentials linked to high-demand jobs with strong career ladders. With support from LISC, JVS will strengthen its highly-successful Biotechnology and Compliance Pathway in partnership with Quincy College, while expanding a current focus area in Information Technology into a separate STEM pathway program in Computer Networking. JVS will deepen integrated service delivery in JBCC by expanding Financial Opportunity Center services to more individuals, will increase program accessibility by addressing academic skills gaps in pre-bridge programs, and will accelerate college readiness by co-enrolling adult diploma students nearing completion of their high school credential.

John H. Boner Community Center

Indianapolis, IN

The John H. Boner Community Center’s Bridges to Careers program will establish the educational foundation and framework from which the community can build its comprehensive adult education continuum. After the initial ramp-up, the Boner Center will serve roughly 84 Near Eastside individuals each year to move into sustainable career pathways.  The program will reach individuals who may not qualify for traditional training programs and will prepare them for long-term success.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota - Eastside Financial Center
St. Paul, MN

Located in the heart of St. Paul’s Eastside neighborhood, the Eastside Financial Center (EFC), a division of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, has been operating an Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) model for the community since 2008. In 2013, the EFC added bridge program services for health care careers into its existing ISD model, expanding its work and better serving the Eastside community.

LSS will enhance its existing healthcare pathway Bridge program and will introduce a new bridge program in the construction sector. Enhancements to the healthcare bridge include: a more seamless integration of ISD programming beginning even before participants enter the basic skills bridge, outreach to a more diverse participant base, and additional postsecondary pathways.

Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty of San Diego County
Chula Vista, CA

MAAC’s Bridges to Career Opportunities initiative connects neighborhood residents of the Greater Logan Heights Community to essential job readiness competencies, skills training and credentialing, and comprehensive supportive services. The program is innovative because of its connection to a community benefits agreement that was negotiated as part of the construction of Petco Park, a professional baseball stadium, in downtown San Diego. It represents an opportunity to assist residents of neighborhoods impacted by the construction of the ballpark. It also combines bridge, career pathway, and integrated services programming.

Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center

Indianapolis, IN

In partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Social Innovation Fund, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center (MRNC) will provide a combination integrated services model and occupational bridge program to improve employment and financial outcomes for participants in Indianapolis. Specifically, MRNC proposes to expand and enhance bridge services it has piloted for the past two years, and proposes to serve 120 inner-Indianapolis city residents annually, resulting in 80 ready-to-work, and credentialed employees each year. MRNC will deliver effective occupational bridge programming in two high­ demand local employment pathways as defined by the local workforce investment board - healthcare and manufacturing. MRNC will link candidates to local employers looking to hire qualified candidates in those two targeted industries.

Metropolitan Family Services
Chicago, IL

Metropolitan Family Services (Metropolitan), through its Financial Opportunity Center, offers employment services, financial coaching, and income supports access on Chicago’s South Side.  Metropolitan will leverage the bridge programming available at Kennedy King College (KKC), supporting students with wraparound FOC services.  Participants will earn a GED, gain the industry-recognized ServSafe credential, and have the opportunity to continue in KKC’s degree programs and/or begin employment in a hospitality career pathway. Metropolitan’s FOC and bridge program is also unique because the services are located on the campus of KKC and accessible to students as well as the broader neighborhood.

North Lawndale Employment Network
Chicago, IL

North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) will existing Financial Opportunity Center integrated services delivery and job readiness and occupational skills training to offer a bridge programming to access sustainable-wage growth industries in Chicago. NLEN’s program will prepare low-income job seekers, including citizens returning from incarceration and others with multiple barriers to employment, who have reading and math skills below the 10th grade level to enter and succeed on a career pathway in Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics. Bridge training includes job readiness, contextualized academics and career development, commercial driver’s license Class B preparation, and training in rail and diesel mechanics.  FOC services including career and employment coaching will support participants’ success in training.

Operation ABLE

Detroit, MI

Operation ABLE of Michigan will integrate a bridge program with their existing Financial Opportunity Center services.  The goal will be to raise the skills of the mid-career adults they service within the context of the hospitality (particularly culinary arts) industry.  This addition of contextualized service will enable participants to be eligible for upward career and academic mobility as they seek financial stability for themselves and their families.

POAH Communities

Chicago, IL

POAH Communities will launch a new Bridges to Career Opportunities program focused on the hospitality and retail sectors. Preparation for this career pathway will consist of two contextualized course offerings, one to bring participants to a minimum of 6th grade reading and math skills, and the second from 6th to 10th grade level, providing two entry points for the program. From there, participants enter occupational skills training and secure two credentials: the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate, and the National Retail Federation Foundation’s Customer Service and Sales Certificate, an industry credential for retail.  In addition to the innovation of integrating bridge programming with supportive Financial Opportunity Center services, POAH’s project serves an unmet need in the community in that it provides a faster track to credentials and training for individuals at or below the 6th grade reading and math levels.

Project for Pride in Living, Inc.
Minneapolis, MN

Project for Pride in Living, Inc. (PPL) will scale and improve the quality of existing bridge programs: Train to Work-Healthcare, Healthcare Plus, Human Services Pathway, and Pharmacy Technician Certification. As a best practice, PPL integrates financial services, employment navigation, and wraparound support services into all of our training programs. This bundled approach helps ensure participants are able to address personal and social barriers throughout their academic and career paths. With a strong network of employer and education partners, PPL’s integrated services model has a proven track record of connecting low-income jobseekers to contextualized education that prepares them for in-demand jobs with career laddering opportunities.

Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment
Roxbury, MA

The Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment will expand its integrated services model to include a Hospitality Bridge to Career opportunity program. This program will help to move current Roxbury clients into financially stable, unionized jobs within the hospitality field. Roxbury will work closely with partners to connect clients to the Hotel Workers Union – the largest hospitality empower in the City of Boston. Roxbury currently provides integrated services delivery to over 150 people per year and the BCO program will allow them to provide additional training and employment opportunities to these clients.

SER – Jobs for Progress of the Texas Gulf Coast, Inc.
Houston, TX

SER’s bridge programming will annually offer three cohorts of training engaging clients interested in seeking occupational training in welding and office administration. The program will increase access for low to moderate income individuals residing in the Greater Houston area with tangible resources that will prepare them for a high growth career leading to the potential of advancement, earning a living wage, and skills upgrade coupled with integrated services. These services holistically address clients’ needs and goals through strength-based coaching, employment matching/placement, and financial stability activities. In addition, clients will benefit from SER’s network of social service agency, employer, and other partners that provide essential services to ensure bridge program clients are successful and gain tools needed to sustain themselves in an occupational training and workforce settings.

SER Metro Detroit

Detroit, MI

SER Metro Detroit’s Bridges Career Opportunities Program will provide expanded contextualized bridge programming and related service enhancements that will assist participants to acquire the academic and work readiness skills necessary to enter into apprenticeships and employment that will lead to career ladder opportunities within the Building Trades.  Participants who enroll into the SER Bridges to Career Opportunities program will receive the basic education, literacy, academic instruction and work readiness training necessary to enter directly into career pathways within the construction industry.  Graduates may also apply for entry into apprenticeship opportunities with SER’s extensive network of labor partners.

Southwest Economic Solutions
Detroit, MI

Southwest Economic Solutions will enhance its capacity to support Detroit area participants as they develop the skills and credentials needed for getting and keeping jobs with family sustaining wages and thus increase the number served.  Ultimately, the Bridges to Career Opportunities funds will further the mission of Southwest Economic Solutions to support long term individual and family economic self-sufficiency.

The International Rescue Committee
San Diego, CA

The International Rescue Committee’s Bridges to Career Opportunities Project combines sector-specific career pathway programs with an evidence-based model of integrated service delivery that includes employment and financial coaching, benefits screening and access to income supports, free tax preparation, and affordable loan products designed to accelerate family self-sufficiency. The program is innovative because it proposes to develop training to meet the needs of specific employers. This reflects the IRC’s intensive engagement with employers such as Kaiser, Sharp, the Hilton, Cox Communications, and restaurants, and helps to ensure that the training is truly driven by employer demand.

Wesley Community Center

Houston, TX

Wesley Community Center has been running an Integrated Service Delivery Model in the form of a Financial Opportunity Center since 2010 and a bridge program in healthcare since 2014. Clients participating in Wesley’s bridge program are fully integrated into the Integrated Services Delivery model. Wesley will enhance its current healthcare bridge programming by providing supportive services for clients around academic tutoring and English communications skills as well as increasing emphasis on moving clients into higher level vocational trainings. Wesley will also broaden the scope of their bridge programming through the addition of a new industry focus, child development. Clients will receive contextualized adult education and soft skills training in the child development field and occupational skills to obtain their certification as a Child Development Associate preparing them for careers in early childhood instruction.

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