SWFI grantees must contact participants after they complete training to collect employment data for grant reporting to DOL.  Grantees can use this outreach as an opportunity to provide on-going support to their participants. By engaging SWFI participants as they search for and begin jobs, grantees can identify and help address any challenges participants are facing and potentially improve their employment outcomes. Engaging SWFI participants after training can also help grantees identify ways that SWFI training could better prepare participants for employment, and assure employers that SWFI trainees are well supported for success. In this post, we describe strategies SWFI grantees use to engage SWFI participants who have completed training.

Engagement through texting and emails. Total Action Against Poverty in the Roanoke Valley (TAP) is designing a research study with a local university to measure their project participants’ long term outcomes. While the design is in the early stages, TAP may use text messages from case managers to collect longitudinal data from a sample of participants who have completed training. Because project participants prefer texting to phone calls, and have established relationships with their case managers, TAP’s team thinks this approach will increase response by participants.

Staff at Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. (ABCD) use quarterly reports as a prompt to check in with participants. Staff shared that their process for reengaging participants is informal because they recognize that completing training and beginning employment can be a hectic time for participants. ABCD staff generally wait a couple of months before reengaging participants so participants can focus on settling into their jobs; during this timeframe participants may also begin to identify their on-going needs. ABCD shared that having a small SWFI team facilitates close relationships with participants throughout enrollment and training, and after training completion. Because of these close relationships, ABCD can reengage participants over email, and participants frequently take the initiative to reach out to ABCD staff.

Engagement through monthly meetings. Moore Community House organizes monthly meetings to build community and connections among graduates of its Women in Construction/Mississippi Working Opportunities for Women program. These meetings occur on the same day each month and participants know about the meetings even before they complete training. Moore staff explained that meetings focused on family friendly events have the highest attendance. For example, Moore has hosted a kickball night and a karaoke night. Staff begin the meetings by discussing resources and supports available for participants such as interview preparation, but the rest of the meeting is dedicated to connecting the women and sharing their experiences. Moore staff that the meetings help identify on-going needs for graduates as they job search and transition into employment. Moore staff also use the meetings to collect employment data from participants and provide them with incentives for doing so.

This blog post shares examples of different engagement strategies that SWFI grantees may find useful. Any questions regarding allowable use of grant funds or changes to your project’s strategies should be directed to your Federal Project Officer (FPO).

Further reading:

  • Presentation slides from the H-1B Skills Training Community describe engagement and outreach strategies for program participants

  • Revisit the SWFI Retention and Engagement Tip Sheet for grantee tips and strategies to build relationships with participants, meet participants’ needs, and use behavioral interventions to adapt for after participants complete training. This tip sheet also provides links to several related resources.

  • A toolkit for America’s Promise grantees also describes strategies for engaging participants and links to multiple resources that may be useful to SWFI grantees.

  • A paper developed as part of DOL’s Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Policy Collaborative identifies promising behavioral interventions to promote job retention after injury or illness. This paper provides a framework that SWFI grantees can use to think about the key events, stakeholders, and behavioral bottlenecks that can be addressed in their programs through behavioral interventions.  The paper also describes specific interventions that grantees may find useful and recommendations on how to implement them.