• 1. What is the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund?

    The Detroit Fund is a regional public/private collaborative that was designed to support innovative workforce partnerships that prepare low-income jobseekers and workers for careers, and at the same time help employers fill the jobs that will exist as our economy recovers. It is working to effect change in the region’s strategic workforce vision and align public and private resources in new ways around workforce development.

  • 2. What is the value that it adds to the metro Detroit Community?

    Because the DRWF is an independent non-profit organization, it has the ability to think and act more creatively than larger government organizations. This nimbleness also allows the DRWF to operate closer to “the ground” than other workforce initiatives.

  • 3. What outcomes is the DRWF trying to achieve?

    The DRWF envisions a healthy community that creates the conditions for financial stability of all residents and the economic vitality of businesses in Detroit and Southeast Michigan. Key to this vision is a competitive core city workforce that connects to and propels economic growth in the region and state. Our goals, by audience, are:

    Increase employers’ ability to attract, retain and advance high-quality talent to satisfy critical business needs.
    Increase the number of low- to moderate-income residents who advance to middle skill jobs paying family-sustaining wages.
    Workforce Development System:
    Enhance the structure for workforce development in the region so it promotes economic growth in existing and emerging sectors. Focus is on immediate, tangible change that can be accomplished in a 36 month period.
  • 4. Isn't that what the one-stop shops do?

    No. The DRWF does not work directly with the general public as many of these one-stop shops do.

    The DRWF is working exclusively to create innovative partnerships that bring together employers in the same industry to identify their common talent needs and those entities, such as Community Colleges and training providers, that can develop and implement sector-based workforce training initiatives/programs. It also uses these partnerships to develop solutions to barriers.

  • 5. What sectors does the DRWF focus on?

    The DRWF’s focus at this time is on creating opportunities and sparking partnerships with employers in the health and green economy sectors.

    Why these sectors? Research shows that there will be growth in middle-skill jobs in these knowledge-based industries as the economy emerges from the recession. It also uses these partnerships to develop solutions to barriers.

  • 6. What’s in it for funders, policy makers and employers?

    The opportunity to assist low-skilled, low-income workers in obtaining the skills they need to improve their economic condition through career opportunities that are emerging in Southeast Michigan’s health and green economy sectors.
    Policy Makers:
    The opportunity to work with the DRWF in convening stakeholders to help identify barriers and create solutions that will strengthen competitive workforce connections and ultimately tie jobs for their constituents.
    A resource to help identify common talent needs among employers in like industries, share the cost to find common solutions, and an organized one-stop connection to practitioners who can create and implement sector-based workforce training initiatives to help meet these needs.
  • 7. Does the DRWF give out grants? If so, how does a person apply?

    Yes, the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund does distribute grants. However, these grants are given only to partnerships (between at least two employers and one training practitioner) that have been formed to fill a gap in metro Detroit’s workforce needs.

  • 8. What are the levels of the DRWF’s grant making abilities?

    The DRWF’s grant making pool is currently $3.5 million. Fundraising continues.

  • 9. Where does the DRWF’s funding come from?

    Ten national and local, public and private funders have committed $3.5 million to date to this three-year collaborative (to start), which promotes regional economic growth through the development of a skilled workforce. Individuals from this group of funders also make up our Steering Committee:

    • Knight Foundation
    • Kresge Foundation
    • W.K. Kellogg Foundation
    • National Fund for Workforce Solutions
    • Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG)
    • United Way for Southeastern Michigan*
    • Skillman Foundation
    • Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation
    • Ford Foundation
    • U.S. Department of Labor (through Jobs for the Future)


  • 10. How is the DRWF different from Government Workforce Departments?

    The DRWF is differs from government workforce departments in several very important ways.

    First and foremost, the DRWF does not work directly with the public to provide training opportunities. It works exclusively to create innovative partnerships that bring together employers in the same industry to identify their common talent needs and those entities, such as Community Colleges and training providers that can develop and implement sector-based workforce training initiatives/programs.

    Second, the DRWF is not a government entity it has more flexibility in the manner in which it uses its funding and can more rapidly and creatively use its dollars to respond to the real time needs of employers and the overall marketplace.

    Finally, the DRWF can provide those partnerships it supports with technical assistance and funds for capacity building. The DRWF’s objective is to create environments and opportunities that can help government systems do more with their resources.

  • 11. How is the DRWF different from the New Economy Initiative (NEI)?

    The DRWF is different from the NEI in four significant ways:

    1. Geography:
    The DRWF has a local focus covering Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, while the NEI focus is more regional and covers seven counties across Southeast Michigan.
    2. Time:
    Initially, the DRWF has a three-year window in which to accomplish its goals and objectives; NEI has 8 years.
    3. Funding Levels:
    The DRWF has a funding pool of $3.5 million; NEI has a funding pool of $100 million.
    4. Program Focus:
    The DRWF is focused on supporting the creation of partnerships that provide career opportunities/career pathways for low-skilled, low-income workers in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. Exclusively targets low-skilled, low- to moderate-income workers to help advance them to middle-skilled, family supporting career opportunities.
  • 12. Who have you supported already?

    To date, the DRWF has:

    • $640,000 training grant for a partnership to train 105 individuals in skills needed for hazardous waste remediation
    • A $300,000 (potentially renewable) grant for a partnership between a non-profit training organization and green manufacturing employers to produce entry-level green manufacturing workers
    • $97,000 planning grant to a partnership between five health care systems and three community colleges to design a career ladder for current entry-level workers to increase their skills and move into higher-wage, higher demand allied-health positions.


  • 13. How does the United Way for Southeastern Michigan fit into the picture?

    The United Way for Southeastern Michigan is a founding member of the collaborative that guides The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund. It provides an administrative home for the initiative, as well as serves as its fiduciary agency.