Growth & Opportunity is about growing the economy in ways that create more opportunities for all people through collaborative, interconnected cross-sector strategies that advance job creation, job preparation and job access.
The Fund for Our Economic Future's framework for how to take a collaborative approach to building stronger, more equitable local and regional economies through job creation, job preparation and job access efforts.
Results of National Workforce Pilot Are In, and They are Good!
ob training works. So why not do more?" This is the provocative question posed by a recent
New York Times article examining the
results of a five-year demonstration effort called WorkAdvance, which was tested in Northeast Ohio, New York City, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. WorkAdvance examined how a seamless provision of services, with a focus on specific sectors and post-employment assistance, can better connect disadvantaged job seekers to in-demand jobs and put them on a path toward career advancement, while helping employers find the talent they need for their businesses to prosper. In late June, a
summary of the results was released and all indications are that WorkAdvance
significantly increased earnings among low-income individuals.
MDRC, a national social policy research firm, in partnership with the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), WorkAdvance was supported by the White House Social Innovation Fund and local partners, including the Fund for Our Economic Future in Northeast Ohio.
MDRC's rigorous evaluation and cost analysis provides valuable data and information for policymakers and workforce service providers, and a base of evidence for what works to produce cost-effective pathways to long-term employment and career advancement.
"The WorkAdvance demonstration was about breaking down silos and improving outcomes for job seekers and employers at no additional cost to taxpayers," said Bethia Burke, director of strategy and resource allocation at the Fund for Our Economic Future. "What we learned was that a continuum of sector-focused services works."
Towards Employment, a 40-year-old workforce development organization in Cleveland with a mission to empower individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment, has coordinated WorkAdvance in Northeast Ohio. Towards Employment was the only lead WorkAdvance provider that launched services in two very distinct sectors -- health care and manufacturing -- and coordinated services in two locations -- Cuyahoga County and the Mahoning Valley, in partnership with Compass Family Services in Youngstown.
Nationally, the approach included attention to marketing; screening; career readiness and occupational skills; job development and placement; and post-employment retention and advancement. Some elements were consistently applied across sites, while others were tailored to the local context.
In Northeast Ohio, collaboration among multiple partners across sectors was key to implementation.
Already, learnings from this demonstration have been adopted by Towards Employment and others around the region.
"Towards Employment has been able to leverage additional funding from the Department of Labor and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support career pathways programming," noted Towards Employment Executive Director Jill Rizika. "And TalentNEO, a new pilot, has leveraged WorkAdvance relationships and learnings to support skills-based hiring in Northeast Ohio."
The WorkAdvance random control trial may be complete, but the real work is just beginning, said Deborah Vesy, president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation, and the Fund's job preparation initiative leader.
Check out this video for a glimpse at how two Northeast Ohio participants benefited from WorkAdvance.
"It is critical that local partn
ers take up the lessons from this demonstration" she said.
In August, MDRC will release a full report describing the findings, and the Fund, jointly with Towards Employment, the Deaconess Foundation and The Raymond John Wean Foundation in Warren, will release Northeast Ohio-specific data and learnings. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months on this follow-on report and opportunities to learn how you can apply WorkAdvance principles in your own work.
Job Access Illustrated
In June, the Fund for Our Economic Future released an update to its "Geography of Jobs" research, noting the follow-on engagement work of Cleveland think tank PolicyBridge and its recommendations for how to improve job access in "Roads Less Traveled.
" The Fund also produced a series of short, sobering videos that help bring the issue to life. Check them out on YouTube.
Takeaways from Milwaukee
On June 13-14, the Fund for
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett addresses a cohort of civic leaders from Cleveland at the Miller Brewery.
Our Economic Future hosted a learning trip to Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley and its 30th Street Industrial Corridor. The trip was co-sponsored by The George Gund Foundation, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, and the Greater Cleveland Partnership. More than two dozen civic leaders from across Cleveland's public, private and nonprofit sectors toured the two developments and met with their respective counterparts in Milwaukee to learn about these projects' successes and challenges, and how they might be applied to an Economic Growth Strategy for the Opportunity Corridor.
The Cleveland cohort had the chance to see firsthand what can happen when strong leadership and a collaborative spirit and vision come together to create 21st century job centers. One of the key takeaways for the group centered on the need to think beyond the road itself; the focus should shift to what is happening -- and what needs to happen -- in the areas around the roadway, not just at either end and along it. The group also noted the need for a champion of the development around the Corridor to emerge. Read more about key learnings from the trip on the Fund's blog.
From the Blogosphere
How is Your Neighborhood's Opportunity Score?
Do you live in a job seeker's paradise or a place with low job accessibility? This new
online tool can rate millions of addresses in more than 350 U.S. cities, and tell you what kind of Opportunity Score your place of residence has. Developed by real estate brokerage Redfin and built in partnership with the White House Opportunity Project, the Opportunity Score rates an address, from zero to 100, based on how easy it is to get to nearby jobs without a car. For more on the nuts and bolts, and the tool's potential, check out Redfin's blog here.
Equitable Transit-oriented Development Symposium
The Pittsburgh branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, in partnership with the Port Authority of Allegheny County, will host a symposium on equitable transit-oriented development (ETOD) on
August 24 at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
This event will bring together researchers and practitioners from across the country and the region to share data and best practices, fostering discussion about the future of ETOD in Pittsburgh. The event is free, but registration is required.
Click here to register today!
Reinventing Our Communities Conference
Registration is now open for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's biennial Reinventing Our Communities conference. This year's theme is "Transforming Our Economies;" the conference will highlight strategies to create places of opportunity, develop the local workforce for a global marketplace, and provide wealth and opportunity inclusively to all segments of the population.