$8 Million Investment in OIC of America to Build Cutting-Edge Career Training for Poor and Justice-Involved Americans

Gift gives Black-led, Philadelphia organization continued momentum to establish a modern, national training program to address the United States’ historic labor shortage 

August 24, 2023 (Philadelphia) – National organization OIC of America (OICA) announced today it received a $8 million gift from the Justice and Mobility Fund – a collaboration between Blue Meridian Partners, the Ford Foundation, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies. OICA is one of the country’s only organizations working at the intersection of workforce development, employer matching, and racial and economic justice at large scale. The gift continues OICA’s powerful movement to launch and scale up the Sullivan Training Network, the organization’s solution to tackle the national labor shortage U.S. employers continue to grapple with, while meeting workers’ need for stable, good paying careers.

Named after OIC of America founder Rev. Leonard Sullivan, the Sullivan Training Network updates the traditional workforce development model, providing no-cost, accredited training for America’s Black and poor people, including those who are formerly incarcerated.

“We know America works best when it works together. But for generations, Black and poor people – especially those who are justice-involved – have been excluded from America’s economy,” said Louis J. King II, president and CEO of OIC of America. “Compounded by the labor shortage, employers and workers alike are feeling the impacts of excluding scores of people ready to work. This is a pivotal moment to invest in our people, build the pathways out of poverty, and toward strong careers and communities.”

This investment comes off the heels of a $5 million gift from the MacKenzie Scott Foundation last November, adding to the list of funders supporting the organization’s vision and proven model.

Currently there are 6 million unemployed people and 10 million open positions for workers. Yet formerly incarcerated people face deep barriers to employment, with an unemployment rate of over 27 percent — higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression. These barriers include lack of work readiness, eroded social networks, and employer hiring reluctance, all three of which Sullivan Training Network addresses. Philadelphians currently experience a poverty rate of 23 percent, and the Network complements the Philadelphia City Council’s 2020 Poverty Action Plan.

Training will be tailored to high-demand, living wage careers in local labor markets such as cybersecurity and construction, and offered in virtual and in-person settings. Participants will be matched with employers, offered wraparound support services post-graduation, and set on a path towards economic mobility with living wage jobs.

“OIC of America’s long history of creating pathways to the middle class for Black Americans as well as their unwavering dedication to bringing the promise of equity and opportunity to ‘forgotten people in forgotten places’ led the Justice and Mobility Fund to partner with them and help bring their compelling strategy to scale,” said Le’Ann Duran, Senior Director, Portfolio, Blue Meridian Partners. “Our current investment will support OICA’s vision to bring their best-in-class, cross-industry training services to more people with an important focus on job seekers returning from incarceration.”

In the 60 years since its inception, OIC of America has established 25 affiliate organizations in forgotten communities throughout the country, and trained over 2 million people. Since 2016, OIC and its affiliates have supported poor and forgotten communities with SOAR, its evidence-based reentry program and services, with over 3,700 people served and 95% of program participants remaining free from justice involvement post-training.

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