We are pleased to bring you the latest edition of the Economic Opportunities Program’s newsletter! Learn how EOP and its initiatives are working to help low- and moderate-income Americans thrive in a changing economy.
Lessons from Lenders and Investors Working to Support Job Quality
This month, we hosted our second Job Quality in Practice webinar, “To Boost Job Quality, Money Matters,” on strategies pioneering investors and lenders are using to measure job quality in firms and drive business practice change. Moderated by Good Companies/Good Jobs Director Mark Popovich, the webinar featured experts sharing how investors and lenders are working to influence the quality of jobs the businesses they support create and lessons this work offers for workforce development professionals. The full webinar video and presentation are available here.
Building New Networks of Local Workforce Leaders
The Hudson County Workforce Leadership Academy Fellows met for their closing retreat, which offered the opportunity for Fellows to reflect on their practices as individual workforce development leaders, with a particular focus on how issues of race, equity, and inclusion influence their leadership. The Hudson County Academy will conclude in March with Fellows’ Collaborative Leadership presentations about systems change in the Hudson County workforce ecosystem.
The Detroit Workforce Leadership Academy kicked off this month, with a dynamic class of new Fellows meeting for their opening retreat. Fellows reflected on their personal leadership, considered their individual role and their organization’s role in advancing racial equity and inclusion, strengthened their shared understanding of the Detroit labor market, and learned about systemic challenges to economic mobility in the labor market and strategies for change.
A New Resource to Support Workforce Professionals’ Engagement with Retailers
Instituto del Progreso Latino, one of our Reimagine Retail partners in Chicago, recently released a Facilitator Guide designed to support training providers and retail professionals interested in adapting the National Retail Federation Foundation’s Basic Customer Service & Sales Fundamentals curriculum for the incumbent workforce. The guide is based on Instituto’s experience customizing the NRF Foundation curriculum for local retailers. It includes detailed information on adapting NRF Foundation training for specific retail environments, including guidance on how to talk with retail representatives about workplace practices and culture to customize a course, as well as teaching tips for trainers. You can learn more about Instituto and its work in our “Promising Workforce Strategies” profile.
The Potential of Expanding Opportunity through Impact Investing
The Aspen Institute, in partnership with Prudential, hosted “Toward a New Capitalism,” a summit that explored how impact investing can help drive greater financial security and more deeply shared prosperity in a rapidly changing economy and the EOP team was happy to contribute. BOI Director Joyce Klein, with colleagues from the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program and Prudential, facilitated a roundtable on how place-based investing strategies can help US communities advance economic inclusion and adapt to a changing economy. EOP Executive Director Maureen Conway contributed ideas on how to invest in good jobs in a conversation on moving from financial inclusion to financial security, facilitated by our colleagues from the Financial Security Program, Prudential, and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
Sharing the Value of Upskilling for Employers
How can employers ensure their employees have the skills needed to keep up with a changing economy? UpSkill America Director Jaime Fall joined SHRM’s “All Things Work” podcast to discuss how upskilling can help companies stay competitive, how employers can find partners to build an upskilling program, and examples of upskilling initiatives from around the country.
Capturing Learning on Entrepreneurship for Opportunity Youth
Business Ownership Initiative Director Joyce Klein, along with Yelena Nemoy of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, visited the Philadelphia Youth Network, the backbone agency for the Youth Entrepreneurship Fund‘s grants in the city, to learn more about how the organization is teaching young people entrepreneurship skills and helping them learn about business ownership as a potential career pathway. The visit included a panel of local entrepreneurs and a representative of a local CDFI, who discussed potential pathways to entrepreneurship with the young people in the program. We will be sharing more in-depth updates from visits to the three Youth Entrepreneurship Fund sites in the coming months.
Engaging Business Leaders to Strengthen Workforce Practices
EOP Senior Project Manager Jenny Weissbourd spoke to Reimagine Retail partner the Center for the Future of Arizona’s Retail Employer Network about stable scheduling as a strategy to increase front-line employee retention and development. Jenny discussed approaches to implementing stable scheduling and potential business benefits, including increased sales, productivity, worker retention, and engagement. HR leaders shared their experience testing stable scheduling as well as barriers to implementation.
Upcoming at EOP
On March 20, we will be hosting an Opportunity in America event to explore how expanding opportunities for employee ownership in companies could contribute to narrowing the racial and gender wealth gaps by giving workers a stake in the business. This panel will feature recent research on employee share ownership and its role in building wealth for low- and moderate-income workers, particularly women and people of color. And it will offer perspectives from a local leader supporting employee ownership conversions and worker-owners of an employee-owned business. Learn more and register here.
We will be hosting our third Job Quality in Practice webinar on March 3, focusing on how workforce development leaders can encourage improved job quality in their communities. The webinar will consider the role workforce organizations play in influencing public systems, incentivizing changed business practice, empowering worker constituencies, and leveraging their own organizational practices.
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The Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. We recognize that race, gender, and place intersect with and intensify the challenge of economic inequality and we address these dynamics by advancing an inclusive vision of economic justice. For over 25 years, EOP has focused on expanding individuals’ opportunities to connect to quality work, start businesses, and build economic stability that provides the freedom to pursue opportunity. For more information, visit as.pn/eop.
EOP has several initiatives, including the Business Ownership Initiative, Workforce Strategies Initiative, UpSkill America, and Good Companies/Good Jobs. In addition, across these approaches EOP hosts the Economic Opportunity Fellows Network and the Opportunity in America event series.
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit aspeninstitute.org.
Thank you to our many partners and funders for supporting our efforts.
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