Spring, 2011 

Greater West Town Helps Lead Local, National Advocacy Efforts to 
Preserve Federal Job Training Funds 

Massive Federal Job Training Cuts Turned Back – For NOW ...

For more than 2 decades Greater West Town has been a leader in advocating for increased public investment in educational and economic opportunities for low-income youth and adults. 

In the Spring of 2011, Greater West Town stepped up once again, to help lead the fight against a U. S. House of Representatives’ plan to “zero out” federal funding of the “Workforce Investment Act” (“WIA”). GWTP worked with fellow non-profit job training agencies, elected officials, community members, employer partners and participants in our programs to organize a “Community Speak-Out” against the cuts. Held on March 24th at our new Community Career Education & Community Development Center, the event was closely coordinated with the National Skills Coalition and dozens of other national groups that had designated March 24th as the “National Workforce Day of Action.” GWTP spearheaded the planning for the Speak-Out over several weeks, accompanied by a growing crescendo of advocacy by our students and alumni, community members, and local employers in our Business-Community Partnership. In the build-up to March 24th, all these stakeholders wrote letters and made phone calls to members of Congress, urging continued funding of WIA.

Community Partners, Erie House, JARC, OAI, Join the Fight . . .
“WIA is an essential investment in the communities we serve,” declared Bill Leavy, GWTP’s founder and Executive Director, to a crowd of more than 100 gathered at the Community Center that day. “The people we serve are the ones who are still hardest hit by this ongoing recession. Why would Congress take their opportunity and hope away? I don’t want to see one less person in our training and placement programs. We have to put people back to work!” 

GWTP staff, participants and employer partners gave testimonies, as invited dignitaries U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s Chief of Staff Clarisol Duque and U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis listened intently, then spoke to the crowd about their unwavering support for WIA funding. Erie Neighborhood House, Jane Addams Resource Corporation, and OAI, Inc. joined GWTP for the Speak Out; their staff, employers, and WIA program participants added their success stories and calls for continued WIA funding to the testimony, to those of GWTP WIA participants. click here for success stories. Chicago media and the New York Times covered the story of grassroots support for WIA. 

GWTP’s organizing and advocacy efforts, coordinated with our national coalition partners, successfully headed off massive job training funding cuts in the recent 2011 federal budget compromise. However the battle over the 2012 Federal Budget is already in high gear. Again, some Congressional leaders are targeting the most vulnerable, most in-need, and most disadvantaged Americans for further cuts. Greater West Town, our partners and allies, must be ready to again stand up for the most vulnerable among us, and work to open the doors of educational and economic opportunity for low-income families 

and communities.