Foundations nationwide are supporting programs that provide employment, job and life skills training, and assistance launching sustainable, socially responsible enterprises that employ workers and grow over time.
Community CROPS, in Nebraska, uses the proceeds from their sales at a local farmers market to provide 20 percent of the funding for a program that helps new farmers make a living off their land.
MOO Milk, in Maine, promotes farm preservation and economic development - and sold almost $750,000 worth of organic milk in 2010, keeping six family farms in business.
Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abuse, in North Carolina, runs a $5 million moving company that provides more than half of the program's operating income.
Taharka Brothers, in Maryland, runs an ice cream company, using the business to provide leadership training for young men.
Summer Night Lights, in California, runs a program that has reduced gang violence by more than 40 percent in targeted areas - and employs more than 1,000 people each summer.
NeighborWorks Montana runs a home loan and financial education program to create homeownership opportunities for families, which includes a construction program that has supported hundreds of jobs over the years.
SkillWorks, in Massachusetts, is a workforce development program that helps low income individuals gain the skills they need to advance into family-supporting employment while at the same time helping businesses find skilled workers.
People Helping People, in Utah, is a workforce development program that promotes self-sufficiency for single mothers by combining intensive training with one-on-one mentoring.
All of these programs approach problems facing their communities in different ways. They have different levels of funding and staffing requirements. But they are all examples of how foundation funding is being used to create jobs and boost small businesses, move people out of poverty and lay the groundwork for financial security.