Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships


In January 2014, when Secretary Perez hosted a roundtable with long-term unemployed individuals affiliated with job clubs in MD, VA, and NJ, he heard firsthand about the practice of long-term unemployed individuals taking early withdrawals from their 401k or IRA retirement savings plans. Long-term unemployed individuals were required to pay the additional 10 percent tax penalty for early withdrawals after unemployment insurance benefits expired and other forms of savings were exhausted. The need to pay for basic necessities for themselves and their families outweighed the deterrent effect of the early withdrawal penalty.

We have heard similar stories from job clubs and long-term unemployed individuals nationwide. Such input has led to a key proposal in the fiscal year 2016 budget: expanding penalty-free withdrawals for the long-term unemployed.

The budget proposal, which needs to be passed by Congress in order to become law, is spelled out in detail in the Treasury Department's "Greenbook" of Fiscal Year 2016 Revenue Proposals. Here is language from the proposal:


Current Law

Early withdrawals from a tax-qualified retirement plan or IRA are subject to a 10-percent additional tax, unless an exception applies. An individual is eligible for an exception from the 10-percent additional tax with respect to a distribution from an IRA after separation from employment if (1) the individual has received unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks by reason of the separation from employment, (2) the distribution is made during the taxable year in which the unemployment compensation is paid or in the succeeding taxable year, and (3) the aggregate of all such distributions does not exceed the premiums paid during the taxable year for health insurance. A distribution that is made after an individual has again been employed for at least 60 days is not eligible for this exception from the 10-percent additional tax.

There is no corresponding exception from the 10-percent additional tax for distributions from a qualified retirement plan by reason of a period of unemployment. The fair market value of an individual’s IRA is reported to the IRS as of the end of each year on Form 5498. No similar reporting is required with respect to the fair market value of an individual’s account balance in a tax-qualified defined contribution plan.

Reasons for Change

Because unemployment compensation is available only for a limited period, some long-term unemployed individuals may have no choice but to take distributions from an IRA or tax qualified retirement plan to pay for basic necessities for themselves and their families. Although the 10-percent additional tax is intended to deter individuals from using retirement savings for purposes other than retirement, imposing the additional tax on distributions to a long-term unemployed individual further erodes the limited resources available to the individual without having a substantial deterrent effect.


The proposal would expand the exception from the 10-percent additional tax to cover more distributions to long-term unemployed individuals from an IRA (in excess of the premiums paid for health insurance) and to include distributions to long-term unemployed individuals from a 401(k) or other tax-qualified defined contribution plan. An individual would be eligible for this expanded exception with respect to any distribution from an IRA, 401(k), or other tax-qualified defined contribution plan if (1) the individual has been unemployed for more than 26 weeks by reason of a separation from employment and has received unemployment compensation for that period (or, if less, for the maximum period for which unemployment compensation is available under State law applicable to the individual) (an eligible individual), (2) the distribution is made during the taxable year in which the unemployment compensation is paid or in the succeeding taxable year (which allows for distributions over the same two-year period applicable under current law), and (3) the aggregate of all such distributions does not exceed the annual limits described below.

To read the full proposal, see page 138 of this document:


Guest Blog: Six Degrees of Job Creation
by Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis

Editor's Note: Job Club leaders and participants are very aware of the value of social media in networking for a job. This blog provides an update on the U.S. Department of Labor's Social Jobs Partnership with Facebook. The blog was re-posted a November 20, 2012 post on the DOL blog at:

Mark Granovetter coined the phrase “the strength of weak ties” in 1973 to describe a job-seeking phenomenon: that a large network of acquaintances is a powerful job-hunting tool. Our closest friends know many of the same people we know, he argued. But our more distant friends have different connections – and those connections can be invaluable for job-seekers.

Nearly 40 years later, Facebook has one billion monthly active users, making it easier than ever to communicate with every level of our social networks – from our inner circles to our most casual acquaintances. And DOL is working with Facebook and other partners to help users capitalize on their connections to find jobs.

Last year, DOL joined the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), DirectEmployers Association, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies and Facebook to create the Social Jobs Partnership – an initiative to help job-seekers leverage their online networks to support their job searches. Last week, the partners released a Facebook app that will help users share more than 1.7 million job opportunities from five recruiting organizations.

At the Department of Labor, connecting skilled workers with job opportunities is one of our top priorities. Our Employment and Training Administration has multiple programs to help workers assess their skills, access career resources, gain experience and credentials, and find job openings. And agencies like the Office of Disability Employment Policy, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service and Women’s Bureau address employment challenges that affect specific worker demographic groups.

The Social Jobs Partnership is all about connections: connecting the public and private sectors, connecting employers and workers, and connecting existing skills with business needs.

This app will help job-seekers take advantage of those connections to find good jobs – and those connections are broad. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center report, “at two degrees of separation (friends of friends), Facebook users surveyed on average can reach 156,569 other Facebook users.” And a recent NACE survey found that 50 percent of employers use Facebook in their hiring processes.

Put another way, by facilitating connections within a network of more than 150,000 people and 1.7 million jobs, this app transforms “weak ties” into an incredibly strong tool for workers and employers alike.


The Department of Labor's Job Clubs Initiative was featured in a 2014 year end report issued by the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The report, titled, "Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships: Year of Action Highlights" includes 14 initiatives across the federal government. The Job Clubs Initiative's efforts to support and reemploy the long-term unemployed leads off the report.

Guest Blog: Thoughts on How to Run a Job Club
by Ken Soper

Running job clubs, or as I prefer to say “work-search” groups, requires a lot of flexibility, persistence and consistency.  During the 16 years now I have facilitated them in West Michigan, sometimes just for a few weeks, but most often weekly since the turn of the century, I have discovered a couple of key areas for facilitators to keep in mind.

First, you don’t have to have all the answers about the work-search, resume writing, or interviewing.  There are many resources available, some simple to access, some known only to those with special skills and training.  Yes, we do need to vet them so that silliness and even wrongheaded ideas of how to find work and stay employable don’t creep into our language, advice and networks. 

It’s not that I don’t have opinions.  Yes, I do have opinions, and most facilitators will, but be open to learning from those looking for work for insights.  Many of them have much more experience than I in hiring as HR professionals, managers, and salespersons and learning how to sell services or products.  (Especially, the sales people who come through our West Michigan groups. They help us all learn how to “TOYASE”—think-of-your-self-as-self-employed—and develop stronger skills and mindsets in selling, regardless of the type of position we’re seeking or the level of responsibility.  Excellent sales blogs are also very instructive.)  The age of the entrepreneur and innovator is here.

And second, the folks coming through work-search/transition groups need concrete, genuine and personable encouragement (and support) that they will find a new situation.  They need encouragement that the transition can be a time for reflection, spiritual renewal or discovery, and affirmation of their connections to their community and “affinity groups” as a significant source of strength.

Here are some of the suggestions that EaRN Employment and Resource Network affiliates are encouraged to share with their congregants:

  • Seek out the person who is ‘unemployed,’ though they’re really ‘in transition between positions.’ Offer to have coffee or lunch together.  Frequently unwarranted shame or embarrassment will cause them to hide the fact they’ve lost their job.
  • Ask what their skills and expertise are (a.k.a. their features), what their strengths are (a.k.a. the benefits their previous employers received from employing them), and what types of work and contacts they are seeking.  This information is part of their identity
  • Listen carefully and make a few notes, including phone number and email address. Offer your business card (and take theirs). Urge them to update you (by phone and/or email) periodically about their progress—both the encouraging and discouraging news. If they don't contact you periodically, you call them.
  • Refer the job seeker to others whom you believe are willing and can give them good advice and suggestions about their plans for getting reemployed. (These people need not have or know where a job is currently available.) Call ahead to alert that person to the approach of the person looking for work.
  • If you are a person of faith, pray daily for the individual and their family members during this time. Often a job loss provokes a family crisis, particularly when the loss is not anticipated.

 More information of this type is available through  the EaRN website,

Ken Soper is vice president of EaRN/Employment & Resource Network and principal of LifeSteward Group LLC. Ken is an NCDA-recognized Master Career Counselor and an NBCC National Certified Career Counselor.

Job-Driven Grants for the Long Term Unemployed

On June 26, the Department of Labor awarded nearly $155 million in grants to 32 states, Puerto Rico and the Cherokee tribal nation through the Job-Driven National Emergency Grant competition. These grants will provide work-based learning such as on-the-job training, as well as career coaching, networking, and job placement assistance for dislocated worker with a focus on the long-term unemployed. At least one state grantee - New Hampshire - will use grant funds to support job clubs. From New Hampshire's project summary:

"The project will also incorporate a professionally facilitated Job Club to encourage information sharing, networking, and peer support activities."

To read more about these grants, including links to each grantee's project summaries, visit:

UPDATE: The Job Clubs Evaluation can now be accessed at:

View and listen to the webinar recording here:

On May 9, the Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Office will release a new report on a formative evaluation of job clubs participating in the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership’s Job Clubs Initiative.

As part of the release of this report, we are hosting a webinar from 2pm to 3:30pm EDT on Friday, May 9. The webinar will include a presentation from the evaluation team and panel discussions with job clubs that participated in the evaluation and representatives from the Department of Labor and the workforce system.

We have a great lineup of presenters, including:
John Trutko (Capital Research Partners) and Burt Barnow (George Washington University) who will share key findings and promising practices from their nationwide review of job clubs on behalf of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Les Range, Regional Administrator for the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.
Mary Margaret Garrett, Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Plus, special remarks via video from Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

It's simple to join the webinar via webex. Just go to:

You can also dial in directly at:
Call-in toll-free number (Verizon): 1-866-800-9214  (US)
Attendee access code: 534 452 80

This is an important report that acknowledges the important role job clubs are playing in helping Americans get back to work.

We look forward to connecting with you on Friday, May 9!

Guest Blog: Crossroads Career Network Offers Free Career Ministry Package to Job Clubs

by Tim Krauss, Volunteer CEO, Crossroads Career Network

On the 9/20/13 Jobs Clubs Webinar, we announced a Free Career Ministry Package for Job Clubs interested in starting or growing a faith-based approach to job and career search. 


What’s in the Package?


Crossroads Career Network is a national nonprofit membership of churches, community groups, schools and professionals helping people find jobs, careers and God’s calling. 


The Package includes both Career and Ministry online resources immediately available to USDOL affiliated Job Clubs with a quick and simple online registration.


Career Resources

-   70-page Crossroads Career Work Book

-   Personal Career Management Dashboard

-   Over 200 Online Career Resources

-  Job Searching and Resume Posting

-   Free Job Posting for Employers

-  Online Prayer Network


Ministry Resources

-  Group Leader Guide

-  Ministry Newsletter Emailed Monthly

-  Video Introduction to Career Ministry

-  Workshop Resources

o    Facilitator Guide and Video

o    Customizable Power Point for Workshop

o    Workshop Handouts: Sign-in and Evaluation

o    Short Videos: Resume and Interview


Why Faith-based and Free?


We believe everybody needs career ministry, because everyone gets vocationally sick sometime.  Those who are unemployed or underemployed are especially at risk.  Since God made us masterpieces for good works, faith in God can bring healing, hope and help. 


Why free?  Over the past year, we worked hard to bring the best of “high tech and high touch” career ministry resources.  We want to share with all Job Clubs because we don’t believe in competing.  We believe in completing.  We are all better together.  That’s why we are offering a basic career ministry package for free through the end of 2013, so that any job club can start and grow job and career search services with a faith-based approach.


More Career Ministry Resources?


Crossroads Career Network also publishes Crossroads Career Work Books in print and for e-readers.  Job clubs can join the network via annual membership and receive the complete menu of ministry resources and direct connection with all Crossroads Career members for best practice sharing.  For larger organizations, we also offer customized website development with job connection technology to engage employers and build local community. 


If you have questions, call 800-941-3566 or email 


Tim assumed the role of Volunteer CEO for Crossroads Career Network in October 2012. He is also the creator and developer of the Job Connection, a Web application that connects 70,000 job seekers and 10,000 employers through churches, ministries and colleges. Tim understands the plight of today’s jobseeker having moved 25 times and held 18 different positions throughout his career, including one as a pastor. This experience serves as his passion behind Job Connection and now Crossroads Career Network. Tim holds a BS in Marketing and Management from LeTourneau University, as well as a Masters in Management from Minot State University.


In October, the Department of Labor and the White House announced a suite of new resources and investments for addressing long-term unemployment. Job clubs play an important role in all of these new announcements.

The Department of Labor announced $170 million in grants to public-private partnerships under the Ready to Work Partnerships grant program. In at least four of the 23 new grants, job clubs are included as key partners for reaching, supporting, and serving long-term unemployed workers. Read about the new grants, including a list of the new grantees.

The Department of Labor also issued a Training and Employment Notice to the public workforce system, encouraging the system to increase services to long-term unemployed workers and identifying promising practices and resources. Job club partnerships were identified as a promising practice in the guidance. Read the guidance.

Finally, Deloitte Consulting in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation released new handbooks on long-term unemployment. First is a handbook that provides useful information and a how-to guide for employers to increase their talent pool by better targeting and hiring qualified long-term unemployed individuals. This resource was informed directly by companies that are already implementing these practices. Second is a handbook for long-term unemployed job seekers, which includes information for job seekers about the value of job clubs and how to find local job clubs. And third is a handbook for communities seeking to increase opportunities for the long-term unemployed. Read about and download the handbooks.

Guest Blog: The Whole Person Job Search: Rethinking How Americans Get Work

by Liz Ryan

I grew up as a child and then as a corporate HR person in the Age of Lifetime Employment. Of course, we didn’t use that terminology, but the expectation was the same. My dad worked for one company for 35 years. I started working full-time in the early 1980s, and most of the people around me fully expected to retire from the jobs they were in. Employment in America has undergone massive changes since then.

Working people can’t expect to stay in the same career path for more than a few years, much less stay with one employer. The new skills job seekers need are not the same as the job search skills we taught 20 or even 10 years ago. Today, job seekers need new muscles, and they need ways to fill their emotional fuel tanks. Depleted self esteem is the elephant in the room for workforce developers and career coaches. At Human Workplace we call the phenomenon The Mojo Drop™. When a job seeker’s mojo is gone, what’s the point of continuing to talk about job applications and interview attire? The mojo-less job seeker is not going to try, because he doesn’t feel up to the task. You can see it in his face. 

Our career development centers have been slow to catch up to the shifting of tectonic plates in the American employment  ecosystem. That’s why we started Human Workplace – to put human energy and spark (we call it mojo!) back at center stage in any conversation about job search, where it belongs. Once a job-seeker’s flame is relit, he or she can take on the challenges that a 21st-century job search requires.

We mentioned that job seekers need to build new muscles for the new-millennium workplace, where jobs change frequently and job security is something you carry around with you. We tell job seekers that the more secure a job looks, the more dangerous it is, because the traditionally "secure" jobs with slow-moving organizations give a working person the least opportunity to grow the self reliance and try-anything muscles this new working world requires.

What sorts of muscles am I talking about? Here are a few examples:

PAIN-SPOTTING is the process of looking around your environment to notice which organizations might have the types of problems (or “business pain”) you traditionally relieve via your efforts.

FRAMING is the technique of shifting the way you describe your background, to make your experience especially relevant to a given employer.

STORYTELLING is the nearly lost art of explaining what you did that made a difference on a past job, not in a boring list of Tasks and Duties but in a flesh-and-blood story that will show how you get things done.

PERSPECTIVE-TAKING means putting yourself in a hiring manager’s shoes. What sorts of business pain is a hiring manager likely to have? By the time you’ve worked a few jobs, you know what all the movies look like. We need to use our knowledge of a hiring manager’s movie to start a conversation.

INTERVIEWING – Interviewing in Human Workplace language means asking questions as an active participant in any conversation, including a job interview. It means learning more about an opportunity. We use the same technique when we’re networking, and everywhere we interact with people.

It is a new day. The job-search mindset and methodology left over from the Age of Lifetime Employment cannot help us now. Job seekers need to learn to fish, not eat fish sandwiches.  Employers need to grow new muscles, too! Workforce developers and job club leaders have a critical role to play in the evolution of the American career education system, from a transactional mentality to a lifetime-skill-building one. Now is the time to empower America’s job-seeking public with mojo!

Liz Ryan is the CEO and Founder of Human Workplace, a coaching and publishing firm whose mission is to bring a human voice into business and career development. Liz was a Fortune 500 Human Resources VP for 20 years before becoming the advisor to millions of readers, listeners and members of the Human Workplace community.

Department of Labor Announces Ready to Work Partnership Grants
Opportunity for Job Clubs to Partner with the Workforce System in Serving Long-term Unemployed Individuals

On February 19, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new grant competition for public-private partnership programs that serve the long-term unemployed. This is the Ready to Work Partnership grant program that was originally discussed by President Obama at the January 31 White House Summit on Long-term Unemployment.

Below is the news release. You can find this and other information at:

For a direct link to the grant application visit:

Please note, an important part of this grant is providing outreach to long-term unemployed individuals. Job Clubs are specifically identified as eligible partners and are directly mentioned as an example of outreach and recruitment approaches. Also note that many of the services to be provided under these grants are offered by job clubs, such as job search assistance and counseling.

The grant application provides a link to this Community of Practice with information to prospective applicants on contacting job clubs to discuss potential partnerships.


$150M Ready to Work Partnership grant competition to help those facing
long-term unemployment return to work announced by US Labor Department
Grant applications accepted through June 19, 2014 

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of approximately $150 million in grants to prepare and place those facing long-term unemployment into good jobs. The Ready to Work Partnership grant competition will support and scale innovative partnerships between employers, nonprofit organizations and America’s public workforce system to build a pipeline of talented U.S. workers and help those experiencing long-term unemployment gain access to employment services that provide opportunities to return to work in middle- and high-skill jobs.  

Approximately 20 to 30 grants ranging from $3 million to $10 million will be awarded to programs focused on employer engagement, individualized counseling, job placement assistance, and work-based training that facilitate hiring for jobs where employers currently use foreign workers on H-1B visas. 

“These grants are part of President Obama’s call to action to help ensure that America continues to be a magnet for middle-class jobs and business investment,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “We need to do everything we can to help employers expand and grow while at the same time remembering that those who have been out of work through no fault of their own deserve a fair shot.”

Secretary Perez made the grant announcement from the Pulaski, N.Y., headquarters of the Fulton Companies, a global manufacturer of industrial and commercial heating systems. Thanks in part to federal funding from the multi-agency Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, Fulton develop strong training partnerships with the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, and the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. Together, they were able to develop the local workforce Fulton needed to expand the manufacturing capacity of their Pulaski plant to better serve the North American and overseas markets. 

Programs funded through Ready to Work Partnership grants will use on-the-job training, paid work experience, paid internships and Registered Apprenticeships to provide employers the opportunity to train workers in the specific skill sets required for open jobs. Programs will have to recruit those who have been out of work for six months or longer and will incorporate a strong up-front assessment, allowing for a customization of services and training to facilitate re-employment.

As a pre-condition to be considered for funding, at least three employers or a regional industry association must be actively engaged in the project. The grants are financed by a user fee paid by employers to bring foreign workers into the United States under the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to view additional online resources at Any organization that meets the requirements of the solicitation may apply. The Solicitation for Grant Applications, which includes information about how to apply, is available at


1 2 3 4 5   Next >>