The San Diego Workforce Partnership received a $541,496 grant from The Rockefeller Foundation to research and develop an income-based payment structure for people who are low-income and currently experiencing education debt, it announced Wednesday.

The award builds on the Workforce Income Share Agreement Fund, which launched in May 2019 and sets up current students with a manageable tuition payment plan based on their income level.

“We’ve worked with students firsthand to understand how detrimental college debt can be,” said Brooke Valle, chief strategy officer for the partnership. “And while we’ve worked with partners to offer income share agreements to enter education, this grant means we may discover new ways to work with those who are no longer in educational institutions but still strapped with debt. We’ve seen how transformational that financial freedom can be in peoples’ lives.”

The next step is using the funds “in support of researching the feasibility and potential impact of restructuring defaulted consumer debt to an income-contingent structure in an effort to build financial resilience for vulnerable populations in the U.S.,” according to the Rockefeller Foundation. From the research, the partnership may consider a pilot program for a select group of people.

The nonprofit Workforce Partnership funds and delivers programs that enable all job seekers to develop the skills and knowledge needed for in-demand careers. The partnership also provides ongoing labor market research on the region’s workforce trends and industries.

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