Common Good: United Way, Central Iowa Works Win Prestigious Award

United Way of Central Iowa and Central Iowa Works have been awarded the prestigious 2015 Common Good Award by United Way Worldwide. The award is United Way Worldwide’s top annual honor for community impact, given annually to no more than three United Way affiliates globally.

UnitedWayWorldWideCommon Good Awards recognize promising and effective practices from communities around the world that are applying a range of solutions to community challenges. It was presented April 30 to United Way of Central Iowa president Mary Sellers and chief community impact officer Elisabeth Buck at the annual United Way Worldwide Community Leaders Conference in Grapevine, Texas.

Central Iowa Works (CIW) is a United Way-led partnership of 30 organizations and 48 employers that connects employers and workers, public and private funding, and community partners to create pathways to employment and career advancement. CIW is part of a national network of workforce intermediaries, funded in part by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

In Iowa, 56 percent of the available jobs are middle skilled, meaning they require technical training beyond a high school diploma, but not necessarily a four-year college degree. CIW closes the skills gap and help employers recruit qualified workers. At the same time, it helps job seekers get trained and hired for the middle-skill jobs in five Iowa industries needing the most workers: health care; energy / construction; financial services; transportation, distribution and logistics; and advanced manufacturing.

Since 2011 CIW has served 899 job seekers, enrolled 727 in training, placed 514 into jobs and helped over 1000 workers receive pay increases, promotions or both.

“A well-paying job is a person’s best pathway out of poverty toward financial stability,” says Elisabeth Buck. “CIW is a proven-effective, community-wide solution for workers to develop skills, and for employers to hire the qualified and productive people they need to grow.”

“We are understandably proud to be recognized as one of only three community initiatives in the world to be honored with the Common Good Award. The success of CIW is a tribute to the innovation and collaboration of many organizations and employers, uniting to make progress on a critical issue: jobs,” says Sellers.

“CIW has improved the lives of individuals as well as supported improvements in business practices and public policies,” says Joyce McDanel, Vice President of Human Resources of Unity Point, one of the CIW employer partners. “Businesses face a shortage of skilled employees and CIW is helping to close that skills gap.”

CIW site director Pat Steele says, “One of the clearest paths to economic self-sufficiency is education and training. Aligning workforce development with the economic trends and needs of employers increases the likelihood of job placement, retention, and advancement.”

To learn more about CIW, visit

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