University City District
University City District (UCD) aims to leverage the prosperity of West Philadelphia’s academic and medical sectors to support West Philadelphians living in poverty. The grant supports the first Industry Partnership training model run by a Business Improvement District (BID). BIDs like UCD work to improve the economic vitality of their geographic area and are led by that area’s businesses. In the Industry Partnership model employers participate in the design of training curricula which ensures that participants are trained in appropriate skills and competencies. The BID model allowed UCD to build their Industry Partnership on longstanding, high-value relationships to employers.
Update: UCD’s primary objective was to design and offer employer-driven training to West Philadelphia residents in four industries with available job opportunities. A total of 129 people were served and 84 participants are now employed as a result of the program. While they did not meet their goal for number of people served (129 vs. 145), the program is now stronger than ever due to a complete overhaul of one of their four industry offerings. This revision was made in response to a mismatch between employer needs and student availability. While arduous to maneuver, that effort highlighted a centerpiece of UCD’s partnership model: their ability to respond rapidly to customers—employers and students alike. From UCD’s grant report: “We feel strongly that real innovation is a product of how many swings you take, not how many misses. The Skills Initiative continually seeks to refine its model, seeking new projects, new jobs, new employers and better outcomes. This means taking some risks, which are always necessary in order to grow.”