The Rockefeller Foundation is starting a $1 million program to train and place single, minority female heads of households in private-sector jobs, as an alternative to workfare.
Calling such women the ''most disadvantaged members of our society,'' the foundation will award grants to five or six agencies ''with proven records of finding jobs for the disadvantaged'' to train them and qualify them for jobs, says Richard W. Lyman, president of the Rockefeller Foundation.
''We want to underscore the foundation's commitment to poor blacks and Hispanics at a time when their plight ranks relatively low on the national agenda,'' he said. ''The foundation is increasingly concerned over the damage that can be expected to society if we continue to fail to reach those whose lives bar them from qualifying for existing opportunities.''
Between 1970 and 1980 the number of black families headed by women leaped by 73 percent and Hispanic by 76 percent. Currently, 41 percent of the nation's black families are headed by women. Of these, nearly half live in poverty, and fewer than 20 percent earn $15,000 or more a year.
Several steps are being taken to implement the program. They include:
* A special committee will meet in February to consider specific proposals. It is headed by Dr. Phyllis A. Wallace, professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management. Committee members include specialists in employment, training, policies, and procedures.
* Selected community-based agencies -- each with at least 10 years of success in training and placing disadvantaged minority people in permanent private jobs -- have submitted proposals. No unsolicited proposals will be considered. Five or six will be selected.
* Grants will be awarded to the selected agencies this spring.
''We expect this project to continue at least five years, possibly longer,'' said Dr. Bernard E. Anderson, director of social social sciences for the Rockefeller Foundation.
''This is a demonstration project that includes two phases, information and research. We expect between 15,000 and 20,000 women to benefit from this program. We hope that by demonstrating that this can be done and showing how it can be done we will encourage other groups to follow our example. We say that states can utilize this blueprint, too.''