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September 7, 2016

Funding is part of a $10.9 million grant awarded to The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership from the Walmart Foundation

SAN DIEGO, CA — Today, the Walmart Foundation announced that the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) has been selected to receive a $400,000 grant from The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) as part of an effort to increase the economic mobility of workers in retail and adjacent sectors in San Diego County and around the U.S.

SDWP is one of 10 Workforce Development Boards (WDBs) selected across the country to collectively form and implement new models of career services specific to retail – models that will serve as best practices for the approximately 550 WDBs in the U.S. that already provide career services, such as career coaching, soft skills training, specialized skills training and referrals to other resources. The funding is part of a $10.9 million grant the Walmart Foundation made to The Partnership in March 2016.

“Our collaborative effort with The Partnership, San Diego business leaders and government officials, and the nine other selected WDBs will allow us to foster workforce training innovation in a sector that WDBs have not traditionally focused on – retail,” says Peter Callstrom, SDWP CEO. “With the retail industry supporting one in four American jobs, this grant presents tremendous potential to impact retail workers (starting out or established) to grow in their current and future positions. The goal of this grant is to create clear career paths for hundreds of retail workers, providing skills training and new approaches to accelerate career advancement.”

The funding provided to SDWP will provide a variety of services to job seekers, including:

  • Job skills training customized to the retail sector that will result in an increase of wages, responsibilities and/or title for existing retail workers.
  • Professional development centered on the acquisition of “soft skills” that are critical for workplace success such as teamwork, leadership, communication and conflict resolution.
  • Internship placement assistance, resume writing help and interviewing skills workshops for job seekers age 16–24.

Among the services SDWP will offer employers are:

  • Serving as a point of contact for retail employers for recruiting and training opportunities in career tracks such as sales, customer service, logistics, merchandising/buying and management.
  • Providing a Customized Training program for retailers to upskill their existing employees by offsetting up to 50 percent of the training costs, resulting in increased employee retention and a stronger talent pipeline of qualified job candidates within the industry.
  • Connecting employers with interns and assisting with writing job descriptions for new or intern positions.

Approximately 425 people in San Diego County will benefit from the grant.

“As one of the largest provider of jobs for the American workforce, the retail industry presents many opportunities for workers to grow and thrive,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer for Walmart. “Through our work with The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, we are helping ensure that retail workers have the skills, training and education needed to build long-lasting careers.”

In February 2015, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed $100 million over five years to strengthen the skills of the broader U.S. workforce by funding programs to create career paths in retail and related industries and train thousands of workers outside of Walmart. The two-year grant to The Partnership is the largest investment to date as part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s Opportunity initiative, which aims to increase the economic mobility of workers in retail and adjacent sectors by working with nonprofits, educational institutions and government agencies to make it easier for frontline workers to move faster into middle skills roles.

For more information about the grant, visit

About the San Diego Workforce Partnership

The San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) is the leader for innovative workforce solutions in San Diego County. It funds and provides job training programs that enable adults and youth to develop the skills and knowledge needed for careers that are in-demand. SDWP also provides current and projected labor market research on the region’s workforce trends and key industries. Its vision is to ensure that every business in the region has access to a skilled workforce and that every job seeker has access to meaningful employment. For more information, visit


Heather Milne Barger (SDWP)
(619) 228-2904

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