UPDATE: Applications for BELL 2024 are now due Monday, February 26 by 5pm ET. Selected organizations will be notified by 5pm ET on Wednesday, February 28.
WPTI invites eligible workforce development programs to apply to participate in our Business Engagement Learning Lab (BELL), a learning community developed in response to the emerging need for improved employer engagement strategies across the workforce development field.
BELL is a four-month learning community, featuring seven workshops between March and May 2024, plus two one-hour implementation coaching sessions and a showcase in June, focused on employer engagement strategies, designed for teams to achieve their business engagement, job placement, retention, and relationship development goals, while maximizing impact. In September, participants will reconvene for a peer learning and troubleshooting check-in. The program utilizes WPTI's BELL Playbook and our Job Development Continuum, along with the Engaged Businesses Success Drivers developed in partnership with the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce and the Chicago Jobs Council.
Select topic areas include:
- Making the "business case" for your program and your candidates when engaging employers
- Using Labor Market Intelligence (LMI) to guide business development
- Developing strong messaging and eye-catching marketing materials
- Building relationships of trust with employers that will drive job retention, enhance job quality, and lead to pipelines for job placement
- And more...
At the conclusion of BELL, programs will be positioned to incorporate substantive improvements into their employer engagement practices. In this application, groups will select an employer engagement-related issue or challenge within their program that they are seeking to address (their "focus challenge"), and throughout the course of BELL, will work on incorporating the employer engagement strategies learned to make measurable progress toward addressing such issue or challenge. At the conclusion of the program, teams will present on how BELL has helped them develop strategies to take on this challenge.
WHO: BELL is open to workforce development organizations from across the country. Each workforce development program accepted into BELL will be required to send send three or four members:
- The program director OR supervisor of job development
- Two-to-three junior- to mid-level job developers. If an organization does not have two job developers, they can include another team member whose role includes employer engagement and/or job placement
**Because BELL is a cumulative learning experience, organizations must send the same staff members to every session and participants must commit to attend all sessions.**
WHEN: BELL learning community sessions will take place on the following dates:
- Session 1: Kickoff - Wednesday, March 20 - 1:00-3:30pm ET
- Session 2: Know Thy Customer, Know Thyself - Wednesday, March 27 - 1:00-3:30pm ET
- Session 3: Do Your Research! Knowing the Field - Wednesday, April 3 - 1:00-3:30pm ET
- Session 4: Setting Yourself Apart with High-Quality Marketing - Wednesday, April 17 - 1:00-3:30pm ET
- Session 5: Prospecting and Canvassing - Wednesday, May 1 - 1:00-3:30pm ET
- Session 6: Making the Match - Wednesday, May 8 - 1:00-3:30pm ET
- Session 7: Long-Term Relationships, Long-Term Retention, and Job Quality - Wednesday, May 15 - 1:00-3:30pm ET
- Coaching Sessions - Each team will receive two one-hour implementation coaching sessions between May 15 and June 16
- Session 8: Showcase - Pulling It All Together - Wednesday, June 16 - 1:00-3:00pm ET
- Three-Month Check-In/Peer Learning Session - Wednesday, September 18 - 1:00-3:00pm ET
- All BELL activities will be conducted virtually via Zoom.
- All BELL sessions incorporate interactive components, including group discussions, breakout rooms and more.
- For maximum effectiveness, every participant should be located in a space free of distractions with a laptop or desktop and reliable internet service, as well as a working microphone.
- Participants must commit to working on "focus challenges" outside of sessions.
WHY: Here's what past BELL participants have had to say . . .
- “What I loved about this specific training and what drew me to this training was that oftentimes you don’t have an opportunity to work closely with your team members that you supervise.”
- "I wanted to learn from other professionals how best to provide for issues both our clients and employers face. I’ve done sales training before, but BELL is closer to formal job development training than what I’ve been used to.”
- “I had to get through my own struggle of getting the nonprofit thinking out of the way. Having these multiple sessions made that happen. I had to internally recalibrate in order to absorb this material and really start thinking from the perspective of employers… you have the opportunity here to really reframe how nonprofits do their work.”
- “The multi-prong approach combining skills building, high-level discourse around workforce development issues, and then bringing it back down to the organizational level and what you were going to do, meant that there was an expectation that you were going to apply it almost instantly. This continuity of learning was not an experience many of us have when it comes to training.”
COST: $399 per organization (fee covers entire team)
BELL is offered at this modest price due to the generous support of the CD&R Foundation and the Pinkerton Foundation.
- The program director or job development supervisor should complete this application, and a program director or above must approve the submission of the application.
- Please submit only one application per organization.
- If you have any questions about the application or eligibility, contact Justin Collins, Director of Field Building and Engagement, at email@example.com.
- Applications are due Wednesday, February 21 at 5pm ET. WPTI will notify organizations accepted to the program or placed on the wait list on Monday, February 26.
- At that point, all accepted organizations will be required to submit payment, and all participating staff and their direct supervisors will be required to submit a commitment form by Thursday, February 29.
- We will notify all organizations of their final status and announce the cohort by Thursday, March 7 at latest.
- A PDF version of the application is shared here for ease of preparing your answers (BELL 2024 Application PDF).