Ford Foundation Working with Visionaries on the Frontlines of Social Change Worldwide
Economic Fairness

Promoting the Next-Generation Workforce Strategies

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The goal of this work is to improve training and employment opportunities for marginalized workers.

Watch: Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, a Ford grantee, is helping workers gain the skills and tools they need to speak out, move up and get ahead.

The Challenge

Access to good jobs and training is critical to America's economy and stands at the center of our vision of opportunity. As the job market in the United States has shifted dramatically over the past three decades, growing numbers of Americans suffer from chronic unemployment or are trapped in low-wage jobs with limited resources to support a family and move up the economic ladder.

Members of racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and other marginalized populations are among the most vulnerable.

Expanding the employment opportunities of low-wage workers requires effective workforce development strategies that are responsive to their needs, provide access to quality training and connect them to jobs and career paths that increase their mobility and earning potential.

What We're Doing

We support four main strategies to improve opportunities for low-wage workers:

  • Working with stakeholders in the workforce development system—including government entities, community colleges, training providers, community-based organizations, funders, and organized labor—to make it more effective and responsive to the needs of disadvantaged populations
  • Supporting innovations that increase the effectiveness and ability of training programs to better deliver workforce development services to low-wage workers
  • Helping to increase the capacity of worker centers to develop training initiatives and connect their members to established training providers like community colleges
  • Supporting research and policy analysis on workers, employers, low-wage jobs, labor markets, best practices, replication and scaling up of activities that improve the lives and working conditions of low-wage workers

Learn more about how our strategies and approaches shape our grant making.

What We're Following

  • Tipped Over the Edge Restaurant Opportunities Centers United reports on gender inequity in the industry, focusing on the disproportional burden women face
  • Build a Better Texas The Workers Defense Project examines the conditions faced by construction workers in five of Texas’ largest and fastest-growing cities. 18.9 MB
  • Taking the High Road A guide by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United on how strong employment practices that support workers make for successful restaurants
  • Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work The National Domestic Workers Alliance presents the results of the first national survey of domestic workers in the U.S.
  • Behind the Kitchen Door Restaurant Opportunities Centers United reviews local studies on the health of the restaurant industry
  • Working Without Laws National Employment Law Project reports on violations of the rights of low-wage workers in New York City 993 KB
  • Caring in America PHI PolicyWorks presents a wide-ranging look at America’s home care and personal assistance workforce,the U.S. economy’s largest and fastest‐growing.




  • Helen Neuborne
  • Laine Romero-Alston

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