Portland, Oregon – The Higher Education Coordination Commission (HECC) has awarded Oregon Workforce Partnership (OWP) a $1 million Workforce Ready: Innovation in Workforce Programs Grant. This grant is part of Future Ready Oregon, a $200 million investment package aimed at preparing Oregonians for high-demand careers in healthcare, manufacturing, and technology.

The Workforce Ready Grant aims to support innovative workforce development programs, particularly those serving historically underserved communities. OWP’s proposal was among the highest-scoring, excelling in areas of equity, innovation, and partnerships.

The Oregon Workforce Partnership (OWP) is a nonprofit workforce policy, funding, and coordinating organization comprised of over 200 community leaders representing business, labor, community-based, education, public sector, and elected officials from Oregon’s nine Local Workforce Development areas. Oregon has an integrated one-stop service delivery model to provide a flexible, unified workforce development system branded as WorkSource Oregon (WSO). OWP members coordinate, oversee, and invest in the local WSO centers to ensure all Oregonians have access to the skills, training, and support necessary to obtain family-sustaining careers and support the talent needs of the local industry.

With the awarded grant, OWP plans to implement the WorkSource Oregon Reentry (WSOR) model, staffing the program inside the state’s 12 prisons. The program aims to serve incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, providing them with Individual Employment Plans (IEPs) tailored to their unique needs. The WSOR model has already shown promising results in pilot projects, with nearly half of the released individuals entering employment with a median earning of $19 per hour.

Earlier this year, OWP, in partnership with the Oregon Department of Corrections, announced a $3.8 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to provide pre-and post-release job training services to help formerly incarcerated people secure employment upon release.

Cultural Competency and Innovation

The program is designed with a focus on cultural competency, aligning with HECC’s Equity Lens. It also introduces new and innovative programming, such as the use of virtual reality technology for hands-on training in manufacturing. This innovation is particularly crucial as manufacturing is identified as a key industry for employment, especially for individuals with felony backgrounds.

Program Benefits and Impact

The WSOR program is expected to serve a minimum of 900 individuals over the next three years, at a cost of approximately $4,095 per person. The program not only benefits these job seekers but also addresses the desperate need for qualified workers in Oregon businesses. By aligning public resources and reducing duplication, the program contributes to the economic health of communities, reduces recidivism, and enhances community safety.

Media Contact

Georgia Conrad
Contracted Director

For more information about Oregon Workforce Partnership, visit oregonworkforcepartnership.org. For more information about the Higher Education Coordination Commission and the Workforce Ready Grant, visit oregon.gov.

This press release aims to communicate the transformative impact of the Workforce Ready Grant on Oregon’s workforce development landscape. It highlights the innovative and collaborative efforts that make this project a game-changer in serving Oregon’s incarcerated and formerly incarcerated populations. Through strategic partnerships and a focus on equity and innovation, the WSOR program is poised to make a significant contribution to the state’s economic and social fabric.