Building Partnership Types
The relationships that EPA Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) programs develop may include any combination of the following types of partners:
- FISCAL PARTNERS
- IN-KIND PARTNERS
- CLIENT PARTNERS
Fiscal partners include federal, state, county, local, or community organizations. EWDJT programs are funded through cooperative agreements with the federal government. Cooperative agreements, which are different from traditional grants, form a partner relationship between EWDJT programs and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agreements allow EPA to advise and consent on issues relating to the operation and funding of the program it supports.
Other fiscal partners may provide grants, donations, or financial support to the same program with little or no active involvement or control over operations. Diligent progress reporting, fulfillment of promised deliverables, and meaningful evaluation may satisfy the needs of fiscal partners. Others may require more formal reports involving audits or student tracking. Each partner relationship is unique and has individual terms, expectations, and deliverables.
Some fiscal partners place restrictions on the use of their funds. The EPA, for example, in funding EWDJT cooperative agreements, restricts use of its funds to training activities. Funds to support life skills training must come from other sources. (For more information, see Support Services.)
Fiscal partners may not always provide support as a lump-sum payment. Agreements with employment services, for instance, may provide funds on a “pay-for-services” basis. In such a partnership, organizations may include the EWDJT program as part of a comprehensive employment program. Terms of the agreement may provide direct funding for training, or students may receive vouchers to be used in an authorized training program.
The common thread for all fiscal partners is the monetary support they provide. This support is essential for day-to-day program operation, whether it comes in the form of grants, bequests, cooperative agreements, contracts, purchase agreements, or pay-for-service. During the planning stages of a new program, potential fiscal partners must be recruited to leverage available operating funds. The organizers must have access to council, accounting, and auditing staff experienced in working with fiscal partnership agreements.
Not all support comes in the form of currency. Partners who offer materials, classroom space, or services are just as valuable. In-kind assistance may come in many forms.
- Recruitment and screening assistance
- Instructional materials
- Instructional assistance
- Student support
- Placement assistance
- Marketing/Public relations
- Consultation and advice
In-kind contributing partners may need formal partnership agreements similar to those of fiscal partners. For example, donated property may have controls that require tagging and tracking. Or they may choose to provide support on an informal, unrestricted basis. A good practice is to tag and track all donated material regardless of grant requirements. As with fiscal partners, each partnership is unique.
Sharing facilities is one way to stretch program dollars. Some organizations may see a public relations benefit by opening their doors to EWDJT programs for the use of meeting rooms, laboratories, hazardous materials practice facilities, or classrooms. If these facilities happen to be on the grounds of a potential employer, the benefit is two-fold.
In-kind staff support is a common and valuable source of assistance for EWDJT programs. An employee from a partnering organization may be loaned as an advisor on marketing, public relations, curriculum development, management, or other areas where their expertise would be helpful. Terms detailing the loan of individuals are usually more formal than with other contributions because of issues such as employee compensation, benefits, and indemnification.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a popular vehicle for providing guidelines to in-kind partnerships, especially among governmental organizations. The MOU summarizes the nature of the partnership and states in general terms the expectations of each party in achieving a common goal.
Below are some MOU examples:
EPA and Department of Labor MOU
EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers MOU
EPA and US Department of Housing and Urban Development MOU
EPA and Economic Development Administration MOU
EPA and Appalachian Regional Commission MOU
Since the inception of the Brownfields program, the EPA has recognized the value of partnerships and resource leveraging to the success of its EWDJT program. The 2015 Brownfields Federal Programs Guide identifies federal Brownfields partners and their contribution to Brownfields redevelopment.
Advisory boards provide another example of in-kind partners. EWDJT programs can gain a great deal through the knowledge and experience of volunteers who serve as advisory board members. These individuals add value to the program in many ways
- Providing access to potential supporters.
- Providing a link to community organizations.
- Guiding the direction of training to align with the need for skilled workers.
- Hiring graduates or recommending them to potential employers.
- Helping to secure donations, grants, and contributing partners.
Advisory board members are partners and, as such, are an integral and essential part of the program. Let them know they are welcome to attend EWDJT events and expect their participation in order to fully realize the potential of the partnership. Advisory board members provide their time, contacts, experience, and knowledge at no charge and should be acknowledged for their valuable contribution to the program whenever possible.
See Functional Advisory Boards for more information.
Some training and employment organizations refer to students as clients. Using that definition, EWDJT programs serve two client populations: students and prospective employers. Each is equally important. Without either, there could not be an EWDJT program.
Agreements may be formal or informal with client partners. For example, some programs ask student recruits to sign a contract or partnership agreement before commencing the program. Such an agreement identifies expectations of both the client and the service provider. In some cases, violation of this contract is used as a basis for removing an individual from the program. See an example of a student contract.
Partnership agreements with prospective employers are often less formal and less binding. Employer partnerships are commitments with conditions to hire qualified students upon their graduation. It’s difficult for employers to guarantee there will be work when graduates become available, so a firm commitment may not always be possible. However, it may be possible to get a commitment from employers stating that EWDJT graduates will be given first preference in hiring.
EWDJT programs should maintain flexibility in prospective employer partnerships. At a minimum, potential employers should be offered the opportunity to attend EWDJT events and consider program graduates when openings arise.