Employing Knowledge: Where Theory and Practice Merge

Emerging Leader Fellow: Catherine Buttner, 2012-2013

Each year, thousands of students are provided career exposure through WorkReady, a cross-sector partnership dedicated to improving the economic outcomes of the city's youth. Through strategic investments of public, private and foundation funds, WorkReady programs provide academic enrichment, career and college preparation and access to the mainstream economy. WorkReady is overseen by the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board and managed by the Philadelphia Youth Network. PYN monitors and supports some 56 different providers, operating 10 different workforce development models. 

Within the last year, federal and state revenue supporting WorkReady have fallen sharply. Most contracts in 2011 were cut an average of 75%. These cuts significantly reduced the number of youth served, but also revealed capacity weaknesses in the system. While PYN has the ability to monitor compliance and data reporting, it does not have the capability to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the models and consider the capacity of the providers to ensure quality service in the face of funding cuts.

To provide this competency, Catherine Buttner will: a) conduct an assessment of each of the providers to consider the readiness for organizational learning and what each would need to have this capacity; b) create a database that tracks PYN's services to providers; c) develop a protocol for on-going assessment and a set of recommendations for PYN's capacity building strategy, based on the outcome of the provider assessment; and, d) prepare a report to inform funding and program decision-making. This information will help PYN understand how it can support providers to recognize workforce development as a core component of their mission.