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.
Launching our New Conversation Series
EOP launched a new conversation series, Opportunity in America, to explore the changing landscape of economic opportunity in the US and its implications for individuals, families, and communities. Our inaugural event featured three panels of distinguished and diverse experts discussing the state of opportunity in America, how we can increase inclusion, and how businesses can improve the quality of jobs they offer. Opportunity in America builds on our Working in America event series, which examined how the changing nature of work influences economic opportunity in America, particularly for low- and moderate-income workers. This new series broadens the lens to more intentionally include business ownership strategies as a key route to accessing economic opportunity in the US. You can watch the full event here.
A New Tool to Prepare Opportunity Youth for the Future of Work
The future of work has received an avalanche of attention over the past several years from the media, academics, and policymakers. But the challenges facing opportunity youth have largely been left out of this conversation. EOP and Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions collaborated to develop a practical approach and toolkit that community leaders can use to begin to learn how the future of work is playing out right now in their local economies. The toolkit provides a starting point for insightful conversations that can inform approaches and programming to help ensure opportunity youth are in a position to succeed in today’s changing economy.
Building Local Networks of Workforce Development Leaders
This month, facilitator partners from current and future Workforce Leadership Academies came together in Washington, DC, to expand their familiarity with the Academy curricular materials and take a deep dive into facilitation techniques for conversations on race, equity, and inclusion. Participants hailed from Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, Mississippi, Michigan, California and more.
Also this month the Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy’s 24 Fellows gathered for their opening retreat, kicking off a yearlong exchange on systems change leadership and strategies for supporting economic mobility. The Dallas Fellows represent an array of local organizations and will be joined throughout the year by guest faculty from across the country.
Work also continued with our Academies in New Orleans, Chicago, and Hudson County, New Jersey. Stay tuned for updates on their progress!
Connecting Opportunity Youth to Pathways to Entrepreneurship
As opportunity youth continue to struggle to connect to the economy, entrepreneurship programs may offer a chance for them to learn the skills and mindset needed to thrive in today’s economy. Business Ownership Initiative Director Joyce Klein moderated a panel at the Opportunity Youth Forum in Aspen that highlighted and explored programs creating pathways for entrepreneurship for opportunity youth. The panel featured practitioners from across the country and young entrepreneurs who participated in the programs. The panel built on a paper from the Business Ownership Initiative and Forum for Community Solutions that examines the entrepreneurship programs featured on the panel and shares emerging models for creating and adapting entrepreneurship programming targeted to the specific needs and aspirations of opportunity youth.
Collaborating to Improve Upskilling Programs
UpSkill America hosted the first meeting of its Leadership Circle, which brings together companies to share learning from their experiences designing and implementing upskilling programs and ideas for ways to expand or improve opportunities for employees to learn and advance their careers. The inaugural meeting included representatives from the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Chick-fil-A, Darden Restaurants, JetBlue, Lumina Foundation, Red Ventures, Workday, and the Walt Disney Company.
Engaging with CDFIs on Access to Business Credit and Job Quality
EOP leaders joined conversations at the Opportunity Finance Network’s annual conference to talk about job quality in small businesses and how to expand access to responsible capital. Good Companies/Good Jobs Director Mark Popovich joined a panel with Job Quality Fellow Amanda Blondeau to discuss the value of good jobs to businesses and how CDFIs can work with business leaders to improve the quality of jobs they offer. Business Ownership Initiative Director Joyce Klein moderated two panels. She led a discussion on how to build coalitions across sectors to drive policy change, using the example of the work of the Responsible Business Lending Coalition. And she moderated a second panel that shared the experiences of small and microbusiness CDFIs that are using loan sales to help address their key financial constraints.
Discussing Policies to Help Make Work Pay
EOP Executive Director Maureen Conway participated on a panel at New York University School of Law’s “A New Deal for this Century.” The event focused on how job quality is linked to the competitiveness of American workers. Maureen discussed the need for policymakers to think about new approaches for making work pay and incentivizing companies to build business models structured in ways that connect worker success with business success.
Sharing New Strategies to Engage Retailers
Reimagine Retail’s webinar conducted collaboratively with the National Association of Workforce Boards and Chicago-Cook County Partnership drew an engaged audience with more questions about local workforce boards’ approaches to working with retailers than we were able to answer in 90 minutes! You can watch the webinar and review a compilation Q&A on our website.
Upcoming at EOP
On November 13 we will host a panel to discuss strategies for creating an economic system that ensures everyone shares in wealth generated by the economy and that builds prosperity for all. The panel will explore principles for a new economy laid out in Marjorie Kelly and Ted Howard’s new book The Making of a Democratic Economy and bring together one of the authors with leaders who are working to make our economy more equitable. You can register for the event here.
UpSkill America will celebrate its fifth anniversary in January at an event bringing together business leaders, researchers, policymakers, and upskilling program graduates to share key learning from the past five years, highlight innovative approaches to upskilling, discuss solutions to common challenges, and explore the future of the upskilling movement. Since its founding, the initiative has collaborated with businesses to develop new programs and approaches that make it easier for workers to advance their careers. We look forward to discussing the lessons of the last five years and exploring the future of upskilling. You can register for the event here.
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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 an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.
Thank you to our many partners and funders for supporting our efforts.
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