PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Foundation has announced the final $150,000 in awards stemming from its year-long “Make It Happen RI” economic development initiative.
“We’ve been successful in putting the focus on concrete ways to improve the economy,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of The Rhode Island Foundation, in a release Tuesday. “Our work is just beginning, but we are making steady progress. Tackling the state’s vital issues takes inspiration, leadership and the willingness to go the distance.”
Last September, the foundation brought together 300 private-sector and community leaders for a two-day brainstorm session on how to jump-start the state’s economy.
From that session, six major themes emerged: create jobs, close skills gaps, better connect the unemployed with existing job opportunities, address specific barriers to success, collaborate, and promote Rhode Island internally and externally.
“As we mark the first anniversary, we’re taking stock of the progress to date and planning for what’s next,” said Jessica David, the foundation’s vice president of strategy and public affairs, in the release. “We know that Make It Happen will continue to inspire collaborations and a call to action.”
The foundation has committed more than $1 million to fund Make It Happen RI projects, including the final two awards announced Tuesday.
The bRIdge.jobs initiative received an award of $100,000 to develop and implement a statewide education and outreach campaign to address the state’s workforce needs through the expansion of internships and other work-based learning.
“The bRIdge.jobs web site is a free one-stop shop for internships, which makes it easier for employers to post internships that all students can access,” said Charles P. Kelley, executive director of the R.I. Student Loan Authority. “A national study shows that 63 percent of paid interns in the class of 2012 had at least one job offer when they graduated, while only 40 percent of those who did not have an internship received a job offer.”
The initiative is a partnership between the R.I. Student Loan Authority, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island, the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and the Rhode Island Partnership Project.
On-Ramps to Career Pathways received a Make It Happen RI award of $50,000 to help state agencies use their resources more efficiently, to offer career coaching, and to implement work readiness and work experience certification.
A pilot program will operate in the state’s one-stop career centers, through industry partners and community-based organizations.
“By aligning public and private workforce systems and improving the connection among them, On-Ramps will increase the ability of residents to access the education, training and placement services they need for economic stability,” said Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee in a prepared statement.
The initiative is a partnership between the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, the Governor’s Workforce Board, the R.I. Department of Education, the R.I. Department of Human Services, Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston, the Workforce Partnership of Greater Rhode Island and the Community College of Rhode Island.
The bRIdge.jobs initiative and On-Ramps to Career Pathways join 16 other Make It Happen RI projects already underway in the state.