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Are there grants for people changing careers?

Private Help

Armand Fiaschetti once worked as a car salesperson and a security guard. That was many years ago. At 78, the Syracuse, N.Y., resident is elderly, frail and hard of hearing. His hands shake violently [source: Experience Works].

In short, Fiaschetti isn't exactly the most employable person in the world. Yet, when he needed a job, he got one with help from Experience Works, a national non-profit organization that helps older people train for jobs. Fiaschetti now works at a local senior center. Not only does the job provide Fiaschettie with extra income, it's also allowed him to make wonderful new friends at the center.

For years, Experience Works has been helping low-income individuals, mostly the elderly, find work. Most of its money comes from private foundations, such as the Walmart Foundation. Last year, the foundation awarded $6.5 million in grants to programs to help displaced workers [source: Walmart Foundation].

Most private foundations provide money to local groups and community organizations, which then service the needs of their unemployed clients [source: U.S. Government Grants]. For example, Lilly Endowment has provided hundreds of millions of dollars over the years to help people train and find jobs. In 2009 the foundation awarded $2.3 million to Indiana's Private Industry Council to continue a jobs program through 2011 [source: Indiana Business Journal]. The endowment also awarded Indiana University $2.75 million to promote internships, job placement and to encourage entrepreneurs [source: Indiana University].

Even ice cream company Ben & Jerry's has found a way to help workers. The company has more than a dozen so-called PartnerShops. These ice cream shops offer job and entrepreneurial training to youth and young adults that otherwise might have a tough time finding work. The first PartnerShop franchise opened in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1987 [source: Ben & Jerry's].

The amount of private job-training grants can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. For example, grants from the Ben & Jerry's Foundation vary from $5,000 to $15,000, while Goodwill Industries International awards job-training grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 [sources: Ben & Jerry's Foundation; Goodwill Industries International].

Whether it is public or private money, helping people transition into the workforce is an important aspect of keeping the economy healthy. While there might be some disagreement on whether job-training programs are effective, there is no denying that they give people a sense of hope and direction.