At the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, and for our many colleagues and partners, the ongoing and intertwined health, economic, and racial justice crises bring new urgency to our work to improve access to quality jobs, options to participate in business ownership, and the freedom to pursue economic opportunity. Below we share our September newsletter with highlights of recent work. As always, we welcome your feedback, thoughts, and partnership in advancing inclusive opportunity and an economy in which we all can thrive. Click here to subscribe.
News and Updates
Job Quality Tools Library Feedback Survey
When we began developing the Job Quality Tools Library a year ago, we never could have imagined the unprecedented economic crisis and reckoning with racial injustice our nation is currently facing. Today, job quality is more important than ever, and we’re committed to helping practitioners across fields operationalize job quality practices. We launched our Job Quality Tools Library in May, and we appreciate the positive feedback many have shared about the ways in which these tools have offered new insights into job quality and have been useful in their organization’s work. We are eager to hear more about the tools or resources you have found helpful and your thoughts about how we can continue to expand and improve the library. We developed a brief survey so you can share your feedback. We hope to receive your feedback by Friday, October 9. Click here to share your thoughts.
California’s Approach to Recovery and Resilience: Centering Equity and Job Quality
The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the quality of jobs of essential workers and the deep and longstanding racial equity challenges embedded in our economy. This has prompted overdue discussions about the unemployment system, workplace health and safety, health insurance, and fair wages and benefits. How can we build an economy that addresses these injustices and provides opportunities for all to thrive? Last week in our Opportunity in America discussion series, we welcomed Julie Su (Secretary, California Labor and Workforce Development Agency) and Angela Glover Blackwell (Founder in Residence, PolicyLink; Member, Governor’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery) to our virtual event space to address these questions. In conversation with moderator Meghan McCarty Carino (Workplace Culture Reporter, Marketplace), our speakers outlined the steps California is taking to confront the economic effects of the pandemic, foster an equitable recovery, and build a foundation for a thriving and healthy post-COVID economy. Click here to watch “California’s Approach to Recovery and Resilience: Centering Equity and Job Quality.”
Joyce Klein Participates in CDFI Fund Community Development Advisory Board meeting
On August 27, BOI Director Joyce Klein participated in the annual meeting of the US Treasury’s Community Development Advisory Board. As Klein noted in her remarks, “If we want to reach entrepreneurs of color, we need to ensure that programs and products run through the institutions that serve them, and those are CDFIs and MDIs. They are the institutions that have the commitment and have developed the practices and systems to reach and serve entrepreneurs of color.” Click here to read her written remarks to the board. More information about the meeting, including a recording and additional remarks, is available here.
Job Quality in Practice Webinar: How the Workforce System can Advance Workplace Health and Safety During (and After) the Pandemic
Across the nation, workforce development professionals are adopting new strategies to help workers connect to jobs and provide for their families amidst concerns about workplace health and safety during the pandemic. Last week, we spoke with some of the workforce innovators doing this critical work during our seventh Job Quality in Practice webinar, “How the Workforce System Can Advance Workplace Health and Safety During and After the Pandemic.” In this conversation, panelists discuss the crucial role workforce development professionals can play in advancing workplace health and safety, with a focus on job quality and racial equity. They address the implications of these strategies for direct employer engagement, soliciting worker input, and participating in policy advocacy. Panelists also discuss ways public and philanthropic funders can support this critical work. Click here to watch.
Joyce Klein Participates in Roundtable to Develop Recommendations to Congress on How to Support Minority-Owned Small Businesses During Pandemic
Columbia World Projects convened an August 11 roundtable, moderated by Columbia Visiting Professor and former US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, that brought together more than 20 participants, including national policymakers, academics, experts from financial institutions and the private sector, and representatives from minority-owned small businesses and community-based organizations in Harlem. In the meeting, participants – including BOI Director Joyce Klein – examined the challenges facing minority-owned small businesses in the current crisis, with a special focus on the experience in the Harlem neighborhood surrounding Columbia University, and the shortfalls of the federal government’s response up to this time. The discussion also explored the historical drivers and underpinnings of the disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx-owned businesses, particularly as the country reckons with the profound and wide-ranging consequences of systemic racism. Participants identified concrete recommendations on steps the US Congress can take to ensures more assistance reaches the underserved businesses that need it most. Read the recommendations here.
This Labor Day (and All Year) Let’s Reinvent Essential Work
While a tiny virus upended both global systems and our daily lives, essential workers continued despite the risks and burdens to do their work in grocery stores and hospitals, in delivery vans and food production. They deserve better. And we can do better. Let’s reflect why on we’ve made choices such that tens of millions of hard-working people receive so little in return for their labor. Let’s also look for lessons from the many labor and business leaders, policymakers and social changes agents, and analysts and activists who rise to the challenge and innovate to boost job quality for essential and other workers—to benefit all of us. In a Labor Day blog post, Maureen Conway describes why we need to reinvent essential work. Click here to read more.
Joyce Klein Presents to Appalachian Community Capital
On September 30, BOI Director Joyce Klein joined Brett Simmons (Revolve Asset Management) and Jonathan Brereton (Revolve; Thread Capital) to discuss the role that loan sales can play in generating lending liquidity and operating subsidy for CDFI microlenders. The webinar, hosted by Appalachian Community Capital, covered why selling microloans may be beneficial to a CDFI, the financial implications of selling loans, and how to determine whether loan sales are a good fit for your CDFI, among other topics.
Updates from the Workforce Leadership Academies
Fellows across the Workforce Leadership Academies continued to convene online this month! In Detroit, Fellows deepened their understanding of local labor market challenges and worked with guest faculty and facilitators to identify aspects of their CoLab research where additional data and analysis could bring more focus to their recommendations. Fellows in Jackson heard from Ashleigh Gardere, senior advisor to the president and CEO and director of the All-In Cities Initiative at Policy Link, about her experience in New Orleans using data, program innovation, and policy to build a more just and equitable workforce system. Fellows in Detroit will convene again in October for their online closing retreat, while Fellows in Dallas present their CoLab projects to virtually convened local stakeholders on October 13.
Jenny Weissbourd Presents at Oakland Workforce Collaborative Meeting
On September 25, Senior Project Manager Jenny Weissbourd presented to the Oakland Workforce Collaborative, along with speakers from the BLS and YouthBuild Philly. The session focused on strategies and tools to center job quality and racial equity in workforce development practices as we recover from the pandemic.
Updates from UpSkill America
UpSkill America Director Jaime Fall was featured on three webcasts and podcasts this month, discussing the importance of employer investments in upskilling and the work of UpSkill America. He was the guest on the premiere episode of WorkforceRX, a new podcast series by Von Ton Quinlivan, CEO of Futuro Health, discussing company investments in upskilling and creating a culture of learning. Fall also moderated the opening plenary panel at the STEMconnector 2020 Summit on September 18. The panel discussed how companies are actively considering and deploying upskilling and reskilling efforts in the new era. On September 30, Fall was also featured at the 11th annual ASU-GSV Summit as part of a panel on a New Open Skills Framework To Help People, Education, and Work, Speak the Same Language. The panel discussed the work going on in the world of skills to help colleges improve curriculum, business to create better job postings, and people to articulate valuable skills on resumes and profiles.
October 16: Can Employee Share Ownership Improve Racial and Gender Wealth Equity?
Even before the pandemic, in an allegedly strong economy, workers at the bottom end of the opportunity scale were struggling to support themselves and their families. No single metric is more striking in this respect than the divisions in wealth between men and women, and between white households and households of color. The pandemic has exacerbated and heightened awareness of these inequities, and there is a mounting sense of urgency to surface practical solutions. Broadening opportunities to participate in the ownership of business assets can help address this wealth divide and offer working people the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the success of our economy. Join us for our next Opportunity in America event, “Can Employee Share Ownership Improve Racial and Gender Wealth Equity?” featuring Ayanna Banks (Material Handler and Shop Steward for Recology San Francisco Recycle Central, Recology), Julie Bertani-Kiser (Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Recology), Janet Boguslaw (Senior Scientist, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University; Fellow, Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, Rutgers University), Susan Hoop (Customer Service Representative and Employee Owner, Recology), Todd Leverette (Legacy Business Program Manager, Democracy at Work Institute), and moderator Kimberly Adams (Correspondent, Marketplace), with opening remarks from Natalie Abatemarco (Managing Director, U.S. Business Partnerships and Inclusive Finance, Citi Community Investing and Development). Click here to register.
October 7: Meeting their Mission: How CDFIs Can Better Serve Communities of Color
The pandemic has underscored the role that Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) play in supporting underserved communities, including providing access to capital for small businesses left out of traditional financial markets, many of which are owned by women and people of color. On October 7, BOI Director Joyce Klein will participate in a webinar, “Meeting their Mission: How CDFIs Can Better Serve Communities of Color,” alongside Olivia Rebanal (Capital Impact Partners), Nina Robinson (The Runway Project Oakland), and moderator Amy Wallace (JPMorgan Chase & Co.). Registration is open to members of Northern California Grantmakers. Click here to learn more.
October 8: National Council for Workforce Education Annual Conference
On Thursday, October 8, at 3:15 p.m. ET, Senior Evaluation Manager Ranita Jain will be facilitating a session at the National Council for Workforce Education Annual Conference. The session will focus on how conversations about management practices, workplace culture, and employee experiences can be mutually beneficial for workforce professionals and employers. Registration for this event is now closed. Click here to learn more.
October 14 & October 22: Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency
Join EOP staff at the U.S. Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS). On Wednesday, October 14, at 3:45 p.m. ET, Senior Evaluation Manager Ranita Jain will be joining researchers from Abt Associates and Case Western Reserve University in a discussion on “Building the Evidence Base on Youth Employment Approaches.” On Thursday, October 22, at 1:00 p.m. ET, Executive Director Maureen Conway and Ranita Jain will join researchers from Mathematica and the Urban Institute in a discussion on “Engaging Employers in Workforce Development: Obstacles and Lessons Learned.” Registration is open and there is no cost to attend. Click here to register.
October 21: Employee Investment to Increase Engagement and Retention Webinar
October is Manufacturing Month! On Wednesday, October 21, at 12:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. CT), join Senior Evaluation Manager Ranita Jain and Matt Bruce, executive director of the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, in a discussion about job quality in manufacturing. This session will explore how employee investment and job design practices can improve both frontline worker experiences and business performance. Click here to register.
October 20-21: Aspen Ideas: Show Up
Aspen Ideas: Show Up explores the many powerful ways, both big and small, to participate in and rebuild a healthy democracy. Ahead of the 2020 election, join us to celebrate active, creative, responsible citizenship for election season and beyond with a simple call to action: we’re in this together, let’s get to work. Show Up is a two-night offering from the Aspen Ideas Festival. Join us October 20-21, 2020 at 7 p.m. ET! The programming includes conversations and interactive opportunities. Click here to register.
The Economic Opportunities Program is proud to welcome three new colleagues to the Aspen Institute family! Say hello to Rossana Espinoza, Yoorie Chang, and Victoria Prince.
Senior Project Manager, Business Ownership Initiative
Rossana Espinoza joined the Business Ownership Initiative as a senior project manager in September 2020. Her work includes engaging with community-based practitioners, financial institutions, funders, and policymakers to advance promising strategies and policies that promote equitable access to business ownership.
For over seven years, Rossana equipped entrepreneurs in the D.C. metro area with the tools to build financial assets, start and grow their businesses. She began as a business coach at the Latino Economic Development Center, and in 2015 became the program manager of the Small Business Development Program. In that role, she improved program effectiveness and capacity by analyzing data and creating new tools that standardized service structures.
Most recently, Rossana received her master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan, where she focused on social policy. For her internship, she joined the American Voices Project—a nationwide qualitative research study conducted by Stanford and Princeton Universities—as regional director leading Baltimore’s data collection effort. She holds an undergraduate degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland.
One common thread and driver throughout her life has been the positive influence of entrepreneurship to uplift her family and community. She hails from Bolivia and grew up in a family of microentrepreneurs, including her mother, who started a cleaning business to support her family in the US. As such, Rossana has a lifelong commitment dedicated to working towards equity and inclusion of working families.
Research Assistant, Workforce Strategies Initiative
Yoorie Chang is a research assistant for the Economic Opportunities Program’s Workforce Strategies Initiative. Her current research interests include the changing nature of work, job quality evaluation, and strategies promoting social and economic mobility.
Prior to joining EOP, Yoorie worked as an intern for SEIU and held research fellowships at the Worker Institute. At the Worker Institute, she contributed to research projects involving app-workers in the gig economy and labor relations in the arts and entertainment industry. Originally from Colorado, Yoorie holds a Bachelor of Science with honors in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, where she completed her senior thesis on precarious work in the neoliberal era. In addition to her activities at the Institute, Yoorie is an active oboist and crossword puzzle enthusiast.
Research Assistant, Workforce Strategies Initiative
Victoria Prince is a research assistant for the Economic Opportunities Program’s Workforce Strategies Initiative. Victoria is interested in public impact research related to increasing economic stability and upward mobility, particularly among youth and disadvantaged communities. In addition to work on education policy and charter school networks, her prior research experience includes studying how employee benefits, occupational licensing requirements, caregiving responsibilities, and community college programs may impact economic stability and mobility. After attaining a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Duke University in 2018, she taught eighth grade for two years as a Teach for America corps member. Victoria enjoys dancing, binge-watching anime, thrift shopping, and learning about new cultures through food and travel.
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Every worker deserves a job with healthy and safe working conditions, but COVID-19 has shown this is not the reality for too many workers. What can workforce professionals and funders do to help protect people on the job?
-Workforce Strategies Initiative @AspenWorkforce
This year #SmallBusinessWeek comes at a time when entrepreneurs of color are struggling greatly. But systemic and structural barriers created challenges for them long before the pandemic hit. To understand what those are, check out our oldie-but-goodie.
-Business Ownership Initiative @Aspen_BOI
How are employers thinking about #upskilling in the age of COVID-19? On the inaugural episode of the WorkforceRx podcast, UpSkill America director Jaime Fall talks in depth with host Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO of Futuro Health. Tune in!
-UpSkill America @upskillamerica
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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