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History of the Partnership
On May 20, 1997, The Welfare to Work Partnership was founded by five companies - Burger King, Monsanto, Sprint, United Airlines and UPS - that recognized a need for the private sector to take the lead in the new mandates of 1996’s Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (Welfare Reform Law). The reform law imposed a five-year, lifetime limit on welfare benefits and required most adult recipients of public aid to work after two years.
The Partnership, a national nonprofit not affiliated with the government, interacts with federal, state and local government agencies to move individuals from lives of dependence to independence. It provides innovative workforce solutions for U.S. companies of all sizes and industries to successfully hire, retain and promote welfare recipients and other unemployed and low-income workers, including information, technical assistance and support. Currently, more than 20,000 businesses, or Business Partners, have committed to hire or retain former welfare recipients and other unemployed and low-income workers, including 65 of the Fortune 100. Seventy-five percent of the businesses have 250 or fewer employees.
The Partnership goals included:
- Mobilize companies;
- Publish a series of how-to guides;
- Host national and local conferences;
- Maintain Solutions Network, a networking tool created in partnership with IBM Corporation that links businesses and service providers; and
- Develop directories of service providers who provide soft skills and technical training, child care and related services.
Reasons businesses joined the welfare to work effort:
- Actively recruiting welfare recipients or other low-income and unemployed individuals greatly enlarged pool of potential entry-level workers.
- Tax credits and financial incentives are readily available.*
- Eight of 10 business executives surveyed report former welfare recipients make “good, productive employees.” Proper training and job supports - mentoring, assistance with childcare or transportation - remove the obstacles to retain this workforce.
Reasons for businesses to work with The Welfare to Work Partnership:
- Blueprint for Business, a how-to guide for starting a welfare to work program;
- Weekly news updates;
- Policy briefings;
- Smart Solutions, an in-depth look at retention and career advancement issues facing employers who hire employees from welfare;
- Solutions Network access; and
- Early invitations to events sponsored by the Partnership.
Ways The Partnership motivated businesses:
- The Citylink, a 30-city welfare to work campaign, motivated private sector businesses in high poverty metropolitan areas to hire and retain welfare recipients by partnering with public and community organizations. The renowned Enterprise Foundation worked closely with The Partnership in eight cities.
- The BizLink Network in five cities -- Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans and New York – helped develop employment projects to breakdown barriers to work and ensure success for welfare recipients.
- Relationships with four federal agencies -- the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Labor, Department of Transportation and the Small Business Administration – helped develop programs in 17 targeted cities.