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.
Exploring the Future of Upskilling
This month, UpSkill America celebrated its fifth anniversary by bringing together leaders in the upskilling movement for an event to both look back at lessons learned in the last five years and forward to what can be achieved in the years ahead. The event featured remarks from leaders of corporations supporting upskilling and a series of panels exploring how employers are approaching upskilling, the role of regional partnerships in developing training and education programs, and how programs can best serve the needs of employees.
Sharing Tools to Help Leaders Put Job Quality in Practice
As part of our ongoing effort to support leaders working to improve jobs in their local communities, we recently launched a survey to learn more about how individuals across community, economic, and workforce development fields think about job quality and tools they use or need to support a job quality practice. This survey will inform the online library of job quality tools we are developing, as well as the webinars and events we host to discuss common challenges and needs and explore approaches to job quality work. We want to learn more about your work and encourage you to take the survey!
How a “Good Jobs” Approach Benefited Illinois Manufacturers
Our new report “Genesis at Work: Evaluating the Effects of Manufacturing Extension on Business Success and Job Quality,” describes how IMEC integrated lean manufacturing strategies with job quality improvements to help businesses solve their problems. This evaluation of IMEC’s Genesis initiative found that companies that participated were more likely to report increased annual sales, cost savings, and reduced turnover than their peers. Benefits for workers of Genesis companies included improved job stability and security, safer operating procedures, clearer job descriptions and advancement pathways, and improved wages and benefits. Learn more about the Genesis initiative and how it benefited businesses and workers in the full report.
EOP Senior Evaluation Manager Ranita Jain also joined a community session hosted by the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance to discuss learnings from the Genesis initiative. This event also featured IMEC President David Boulay and Scott Rempala, president and CEO of Mighty Hook, a Genesis participant.
Building Better Jobs and Business Value through Supportive Workforce Practices
A new report from our Reimagine Retail initiative explores how workforce development organizations can translate the supportive strategies they use in their own work with participants to their business partners, helping employers improve their management practices, reduce turnover costs, and create better jobs. The report, “The Benefits of Bridging Divides: How YouthBuild Philly Shares its Supportive Practices to Build Business Value and Better Jobs,” documents how YouthBuild Philly partnered with retail businesses to shape the workplace experiences of the young people the organization serves and highlights key practices that can help strengthen racial equity, inclusion, and retention for retail employees.
Exploring New Measures of Our Economy
As part of our Opportunity in America series, we hosted “Measure What Matters: Realigning Measures of Economic Success with Societal Well-Being,” to discuss how we can better measure our economy to more closely reflect people’s actual economic well-being. The event featured an introduction from Heather Boushey, President and CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, whose new book considers how inequality is restricting growth and imagines how a more equitable economy would function. Daniel Alpert, who helped develop the Job Quality Index, and Sapna Mehta of the Groundwork Collaborative also joined Heather on a panel, moderated by EOP Executive Director Maureen Conway, to explore additional measures of our economy and to discuss how we can make our economy work better for all. This event was held in collaboration with our Aspen Institute program colleagues in Ascend, Financial Security Program, and Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation.
Fostering Connections Among Local Workforce Leaders
This month, Fellows from the Hudson County Workforce Leadership Academy met to participate in a discussion with a panel of local workforce leaders to talk about their shared vision for a more equitable and effective workforce ecosystem.
In partnership with Jackson, Mississippi, and with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we are launching the Jackson Workforce Leadership Academy. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Robert Blaine announced the Academy at a press conference. Applications for the Academy are due on February 7; interested applicants can learn more here.
The Detroit Workforce Leadership Academy has concluded its Fellow recruitment and will announce its class of selected Fellows in early February. Stay tuned for updates from these newly launched Academies!
Capturing Learnings about Entrepreneurship for Opportunity Youth
BOI Director Joyce Klein and our Aspen Institute colleague Yelena Nemoy from the Forum for Community Solutions visited our Youth Entrepreneurship Fund grantees in San Francisco as part of our work to document the experiences and lessons from the Fund’s investments. Hosted by the team from Bay Area Community Resources, they met with youth leaders who are leading the entrepreneurship training; training participants and young entrepreneurs; and partners including Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, the city of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Foundation. Findings from our site visits will be shared in case studies to be published later this year.
Incentivizing Job Quality in the Golden State
The Good Companies/Good Jobs Initiative is beginning a new project! With the support of The James Irvine Foundation, the GCGJ team will work with local public and anchor institution procurement systems in California to explore how they can use their procurement processes to encourage job quality and boost inclusion for front-line workers. To learn more about this effort, please contact GCGJ Director Mark Popovich.
Upcoming at EOP
We will be hosting our second Job Quality in Practice webinar on February 11, focusing on how investors and lenders can drive business change and tools they are using to assess job quality in businesses. The webinar will feature experts from two community development financial institutions and a leader from a private equity firm focused on job quality.
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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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