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CenterState CEO, local foundations announce Work Train initiative

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Several local foundations are investing nearly $1 million over the next three years to seed a workforce-development initiative to create job opportunities for low-income residents in the greater Syracuse community.

The initiative, known as “Work Train,” seeks to helping employers in target industries address their employment needs.

Officials from CenterState CEO, the United Way, and the Allyn Foundation made the announcement Wednesday at Loretto, which plans to recruit and hire 100 certified nursing aides through the program.


New York Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy also participated in the announcement, according to his public schedule for Wednesday.

CenterState CEO, the region’s primary economic-development organization, provided details about the initiative in a Wednesday news release.

The program presents a “new value proposition” for employers, Kim Townsend, president & CEO of Loretto, said in the news release.

“By working hand in hand with workforce development and training and education partners, we’re finding new solutions to meet our employment needs, with prospects for increased retention and greater outcomes. We look forward to creating paths to prosperity for our Work Train recruits, while also filling a critical need for certified nursing aides at Loretto,” said Townsend.

CenterState CEO is staffing Work Train with guidance from a collaborative that includes leaders from business, philanthropy, economic and workforce development, training and education, local government, and community-based organizations.

The United Way of Central New York; the Skaneateles–based Allyn Foundation; the Syracuse–based Gifford Foundation; Central New York Community Foundation, Inc.; the DeWitt–based Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation; St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation; and New York state have provided funding, according to the CenterState CEO news release.

The local investment builds upon a $100,000 Opportunity Agenda grant from New York.

At Gov. Cuomo’s direction, the Central New York regional economic-development council in 2013 developed its Opportunity Agenda to connect those living in poverty with skilled employment and help distressed communities overcome barriers to economic success, according to the governor’s office.

In launching Work Train, the local foundations and other partners have established Syracuse as a “partner community” in the Boston, Mass.–based National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

The National Fund brings together a network of national and local funders to support employer-driven workforce initiatives that help low-wage jobseekers obtain career opportunities.

This partnership allows Work Train to access resources and technical assistance from National Fund expert staff, share best practices, network with other partner sites, and allows eligibility for philanthropic and federal funds that come to the National Fund.

Work Train builds off of the “success” of the Green Train and Health Train programs that the Northside Urban Partnership operates.

The Northside Urban Partnership is an affiliate of CenterState CEO.

Through relationships with employers, both programs boast a “strong” record of graduation and job placement rates, according to the CenterState news release.

Work Train plans to build similar industry partnerships between employers, education and training providers, and community organizations to connect community members to jobs that show “persistent and robust” demand for workers, as well as opportunities for career advancement, the release stated.

The first industry partnership, which officials announced at Loretto, will focus on health care.

In 2015, the platform will spread to other industries and areas of the region, according to CenterState CEO.

Contact Reinhardt at


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