Economic Opportunities Program

About the Economic Opportunities Program

Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) staff work closely with the leaders of community-based organizations, community colleges and local government as well as with employers, financial institutions and other key players who are engaged in offering services that help lower-income Americans succeed in today's economy. EOP has particular expertise in three fields of practice: workforce training and education, microenterprise development, and financial services and asset building. To support these fields, EOP staff conduct research on promising strategies, provide training and leadership development programs to local program leaders, develop tools and infrastructure to support more efficient and effective programming, and more. EOP also works to bridge the gap between leaders working in public policy and philanthropy and leaders of on-the-ground, direct-service organizations. Through a variety of channels, EOP seeks to bring the voice and experiences of local initiatives into policy discussions about supporting the design and funding of more effective initiatives.

EOP currently is working in these areas:

MICROENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT 
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, joyce.klein@aspeninstitute.org for more information.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

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, maureen.conway@aspeninstitute.org for more information.

Skills for America's Future
Employers must be an integral part of efforts to strengthen postsecondary education and training to ensure that workers are being trained for the jobs of tomorrow and the years ahead. Skills for America's Future will develop a national network of partnerships among employers, community colleges, and labor unions, committed to identifying and encouraging replication of partnerships with meaningful and measurable solutions. It will also be a national voice on the effectiveness of public/private partnerships in improving the skills, industry-recognized credentials, and employment outcomes of American workers and students.
Contact: Karen Elzey, Director, Skills for America's Future, karen.elzey@aspeninst.org<mailto:karen.elzey@aspeninst.org> for more information.

SKILLS FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE
Employers must be an integral part of efforts to strengthen postsecondary education and training to ensure that workers are being trained for the jobs of tomorrow and the years ahead. Skills for America's Future will develop a national network of partnerships among employers, community colleges, and labor unions, committed to identifying and encouraging replication of partnerships with meaningful and measurable solutions. It will also be a national voice on the effectiveness of public/private partnerships in improving the skills, industry-recognized credentials, and employment outcomes of American workers and students.

Contact John Colborn, Senior Program Manger Economic Opportunities Program john.colborn@aspeninstitute.org for more information.