Marano Fellows Class of 2014
Name: Matthew A. Poland
Title:

Director of MatchBridge

Organization:

United Way of the Bay Area

Location: San Francisco, CA
Industry Sector: IT, Healthcare

Organizational Background & Mission: United Way of the Bay Area's (UWBA) mission is to be the catalyst that enables people to strengthen their communities by investing in one another. Founded in 1922, UWBA served for many years as a grant maker to worthwhile social service organizations. It has recently transformed as an incubator of systems-changing programs to improve educational opportunities, access to basic needs, and achieve financial stability for disadvantaged communities. In 2010, UWBA set a bold goal to cut the number of Bay Area families living in poverty in half by the year 2020. UWBA serves Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Solano Counties with offices in San Francisco and Oakland.

MatchBridge, a program of United Way of the Bay Area, works to align workforce and educational systems through work-based learning for youth such as jobs, internships and other opportunities. When young people are struggling, education may be an abstract concept and having a work-based learning experience helps them to ground their education in the real world, setting them up for success at school and on the job. Working to serve transitional-aged youth 16-24, MatchBridge brings together workforce and educational partners, employers, funders and other youth-serving non-profit organizations to create systems that produce results.

Most recently in 2012, MatchBridge was chosen by the City of San Francisco to lead San Francisco Summer Jobs+ (SFSJ+), a citywide initiative that included all of the stakeholders listed above. SFSJ+ had a goal of placing 5,000 young people into work-based learning opportunities and exceeded it with over 5,200 opportunities provided. In 2013, the goal of 6,000 was exceeded by over 800 opportunities. MatchBridge is also now expanding from San Francisco to other cities such as Oakland and possibly Vallejo as well.

Interest in Sector Work: SFSJ+ is now a year-round initiative called Jobs+. In 2014, we plan to:

  • Expand the number of opportunities available to youth to new sectors such as healthcare and information technology
  • Work more closely with the school district to enhance the studentsí learning by bringing more employers into the classroom
  • Increase the number of private sector employers who employ youth

In order to meet these key goals, an innovative sector-based workforce strategy will be needed to align work-based learning, training and job placements with growing sectors in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are many tech companies now opening offices in San Francisco and many opportunities that exist to involve them more in workforce development. Healthcare also has a large share of jobs in San Francisco and is a potential source of many livable-wage jobs. Both sectors are highly competitive and require basic skills and qualifications that can be difficult to meet, especially for youth with barriers to employment.

It is my personal goal to use the Sector Skills Academy as an opportunity to develop a sector-based workforce development strategy for youth in San Francisco in either or perhaps both of these sectors. Working closely with other experts from across the country in the Academy, I am confident I can bring a workable plan back to our non-profit, city agency and employer partners that provides pathways for the most vulnerable youth in our city to become gainfully employed.