Our five-year strategic plan Business and Society: 2009-2013 spells out the Foundation's strategy for change. It's designed to achieve authentic integration between business actions and societal wellbeing. We have funded a number of initiatives to help us learn how to do this. Current initiatives focus on leveraging the financial and intellectual capital of the Foundation through partnerships. These partnerships enable us to operate at a larger scale of potential impact and to coordinate across philanthropies.
Jobs to Careers is a national initiative to advance the skill and career development of workers that provide care on the front lines of our health and health care systems. A collaborative effort of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Hitachi Foundation, it supports business-community partnerships involving employers, educational institutions, and other organizations to expand and redesign systems. The goal is to create lasting improvements in the way that institutions train and advance their frontline workers; and test new models of education and training that incorporate work-based learning. (Photo credit Jason Rogers. Used with permission from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.)
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS) aims to improve the quality of work, workers, and the workforce system. It is a unique funding collaborative dedicated to learning how business and community partnerships can restructure workforce development. The fund is pursuing a dual-customer approach to help low-income workers develop needed skills and help employers meet their hiring and retention needs. The Hitachi Foundation is a partner in this major initiative launched in 2007. Our national partners include the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Knight, Weinberg, Wal-Mart and Prudential Foundations, Microsoft, and the United States Department of Labor. In addition, more than 250 funders are part of the national effort, investing in local and regional innovation throughout the United States.
The Pioneer Employers Initiative is a national search for businesses, across several industries and subsectors, whose innovative strategies benefit both shareholders and lower-wage workers. It has long been understood that some businesses offer a particularly great place to work, in terms of benefits, salaries, career opportunities, and a supportive workplace culture. Fortune and Inc. magazines (among others) publish national lists of such employers every year, and many regional journals do the same. But most of these lists are focused on the perspective of well-educated, white-collar workers who are usually safely above the poverty line. So we came to wonder: are there employers who offer similarly great places to work for low-wage Americans who are at high risk of poverty? And moreover, can such businesses actually benefit in terms of higher profits or a competitive edge by building a highly engaged workforce? This initiative sets out to answer those questions - please read more about it at the link.
Mark Popovich, Senior Program Officer at The Hitachi Foundation, gave this interview about NFWS to Grantmakers for Education. More details about our grantmaking focus are in the "Guidelines for Grantseekers."