The Fund for Workforce Equity

The Fund for Workforce Equity is a new pooled fund organized by Workforce Matters to spark innovative strategies to center workers and learners of color in the design and implementation of workforce policies and programs.

What does it mean to “center” workers and learners?

To include, respect, value, and honor their perspectives.

Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. 

Racial Equity includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce or fail to eliminate differential outcomes by race.

People of Color make up nearly two-fifths of the U.S. workforce ages 25-64.


In 2021, Workforce Matters published A Racial Equity Framework for Workforce Development Funders, a new guide intended to identify concrete ways for workforce development funders to interrupt the systemic racism embedded within the field’s practices, policies, and programs; the institution of philanthropy; our own organizations; and the labor markets of communities we serve.

One of the key opportunities for action lifted up by the Framework is centering workers and learners of color. Those individuals who are most directly affected by workforce development investments, initiatives, practices, programs, and policies should have a key role in influencing their design, implementation, and assessment. Yet, the field of workforce development has a long way to go in learning to center and respect the voices, experiences, and leadership of the people it serves. We believe that funders can take additional steps to ensure that Black, Indigenous, Latinx/Hispanic, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other People of Color authentically shape workforce efforts. To this end, Workforce Matters is launching a new pooled fund, the Fund for Workforce Equity, to spark innovative strategies for centering workers and learners, document lessons learned, and lift up promising practices for funders and practitioners alike.

Areas of Investment

During its inaugural round of funding in 2022, the Fund for Workforce Equity will invest in four areas of programming:

Grants. The Fund will provide flexible grants to workforce organizations so they can pilot and learn from different ways of authentically engaging and centering workers and learners of color in the design, implementation, and assessment of workforce policies and programs.

Learning Community. The Fund will invest in a learning community so organizations can exchange information about their experiences and learn from one another.

Technical Assistance/Expertise. The Fund will provide access to expertise, resources, and coaching on human-centered design and other best practices for elevating worker and learner voice.

Evaluation and Learning. The Fund will support an evaluation of Year One investments to capture and disseminate lessons learned.

Interested in learning more?

Please click here to review answers to frequently asked questions about the Fund for Workforce Equity, including general information, information for funders, and information for applicants.

For Workforce Grantmakers

Interested in learning more and potentially becoming an investor? Participating funders must contribute by March 31, 2022 to join our inaugural funding cycle.

For Field Partners

Are you a workforce practitioner, policy expert, evaluator, or advisor who's interested in learning more about our funding opportunities? Let's stay in touch! We anticipate launching our first Request for Proposals in Summer 2022.

Thank you to our supporters!

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Cognizant Foundation

Siemens Foundation

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

WES Mariam Assefa Fund

Supporting Members of Workforce Matters


About Workforce Matters

Workforce Matters is a national network of grantmakers that draws on expert and practitioner knowledge and works together to strengthen workforce development philanthropy such that it empowers workers, learners, and job seekers to realize their full potential; dismantles inequities based on race, gender, ability, and other individual characteristics; and advances equitable education and employment outcomes for youth and adults.

Learn More