Economic Opportunities Program

About the Economic Opportunities Program

Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) is a policy program at the Aspen Institute. Its primary mission is to advance promising strategies and policies to help low- and moderate-income Americans thrive in today’s dynamic economy. Over its more than 20 years of work, EOP has focused on expanding individuals’ opportunities – to develop their skills and capabilities, to build professional networks and connect to quality work, to start businesses, and to build assets and economic stability.

EOP staff work closely with national and local leaders – practitioners, policy makers, employers, thought leaders and advocates – to illuminate and encourage policies and practices with the potential to help lower-income Americans succeed in today's economy. EOP has particular expertise in workforce training and education, microenterprise development and business ownership, and financial services and asset building. To support these fields, EOP staff conduct evaluations and applied research to learn what works and document it; facilitate leadership development and capacity-building opportunities; and communicate related issues and promising approaches to broad and diverse audiences.

EOP currently is working in these areas:

FIELD, the Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination, was created in 1998 after research showed that, despite growth in the U.S. microenterprise industry, there was a clear need to improve practice and overcome key challenges including expanding efforts to reach more low-income entrepreneurs. FIELD's mission now, as then, is: to identify, develop and disseminate best practices in the microenterprise field, and to educate funders, policy makers and others about microenterprise as an anti-poverty strategy.

Contact Joyce Klein, FIELD Director, for more information.


Through the Workforce Strategies Initiative we evaluate and document a growing strategy among employment and training programs that takes an industry-specific or "sectoral" approach to developing the workforce. This approach differs from traditional models, in that programs seek to develop a keen understanding of business needs and community dynamics, identify a set of industry-specific job opportunities, create tailored services for their predominately low-income constituency, and more effectively prepare workers to succeed in the workplace. Our current emphasis is on broadening use of the strategy across various institutional, geographic and industrial settings and to develop tools to support effective practice.

Contact Maureen Conway, Executive Director Economic Opportunities Program, for more information.

UpSkill America is an employer-led movement to expand opportunity for America’s workers and help our economy and communities thrive by promoting training and advancement practices to help workers progress in their careers and move into better-paying jobs. Announced by the President and led by a leadership team or employer organizations, UpSkill America’s mission is to recognize employers that invest in their frontline workers; promote the adoption of policies and practices used by employers to educate, train and develop frontline workers; and cultivate partnerships between employers and partners to help them succeed in their upskilling initiatives.

Contact Jaime Fall, Director, UpSkill America,, for more information.