Lead an Industry-Driven Model

This guide is relevant for all tracks of the Request for Application (RFA) and is relevant for industry partners.


Opportunity Now focuses on creating and scaling effective partnerships between industry and education to create job placement and advancement outcomes. Strong models will demonstrate employer leadership and engagement throughout the design and implementation phases. The following resources will help industry partners develop and lead strong programs and models in order to help build a sustainable talent pipeline of skilled workers. 

What is an Industry Partner?

An industry partner is an organization that works in or represents the program or model’s target industry. The industry partner may also be an end employer for placement/advancement into living-wage jobs. Industry partners may come from any industry and may be nonprofit, for-profit, or governmental organizations. 

The strongest industry partners are involved in all aspects of an Opportunity Now solution, from solution design to contributing resources like in-kind donations and dedicated personnel to directly hiring, placing, and advancing program participants.

If your organization fits into the above definition, we encourage you to apply as an industry-led partnership! Industry-led partnerships are more likely to have insight into employment demands and to be able to create job placement and advancement outcomes at scale. 

Keep reading to learn more about resources that can help your organization prepare to apply for an Opportunity Now grant. 

Become an Impact Employer

Jobs for the Future (JFF) defines “Impact Employers” as employers who take a fundamentally different approach to attracting, developing, and retaining talent, starting with the prioritization of employee needs. JFF’s Impact Employer Framework and action guide highlights six levers employers can engage to create transformative workforce solutions:

  1. Corporate culture
  2. Workforce planning
  3. Talent acquisition
  4. Talent development
  5. Total rewards
  6. Offboarding

By following the steps and recommendations outlined in the guide, employers (and other industry partners working for or acting as employers) can create impactful workforce strategies that will set the groundwork for a successful Opportunity Now solution and application.  

Form an Industry Partnership

Are you an employer having conversations with other employers in your industry and region? Are you noticing similar trends and challenges related to hiring, talent attraction, or retention? Forming an industry partnership may be right for you, as there are industry- and region-wide talent issues that no one organization can address alone. 

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions (National Fund) defines an industry partnership as a “dynamic collaboration of a regional group of employers that convene regularly with the assistance of a workforce intermediary.” Employers play a central role in some of the most effective partnerships. 

The National Fund published their Toolkit for Developing High-Performing Industry Partnerships to help guide industry partners in establishing an effective industry partnership that will create impactful talent outcomes. 

In addition, the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) provides many helpful resources for those interested in developing sector partnerships, including their Final Evaluation Report which highlights learnings and recommendations from the sector partnership landscape.

Partner with Training, Education, and/or Community Partners

Industry partners need to partner with training, education, and/or partners in order to reap the following benefits, inspired by Brightspot Strategy’s guide, Making the Most of Your University Partnerships.

  • Build human capital pipelines. Training/education partners can provide a valuable talent pipeline of skilled workers for industry. In addition, internships and apprenticeship opportunities can be a low-risk way of assessing role and organizational fit.
  • Utilize best practices and tested approaches to training workers. Partnerships with training/education partners can create valuable, proven outcomes for workers.
  • Capitalize on trusted credentials with reputational benefits. Partnerships with reputable institutions can bring credibility and prestige to a program or model. They can also lead to new publications and increased exposure.
  • Extend operational capacity. Training/education partners can provide operational benefits such as reduced risk, increased agility within their domains of expertise, and cross-discipline and cross-region collaboration. They may also be able to provide or share wraparound supports, such as access to coaches and transportation benefits to help workers succeed in the program.

To see best practices for multi-sector collaboration, see our resource, Center Regional Collaboration and Partnerships.

Additional Resources

Employer-Led Solutions

Industry & Sector Partnerships

Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) Sector Strategies Resources: