Employment and Jobs

What’s new at the Economic Opportunities Program, August 2019

August 29, 2019  • Economic Opportunities Program

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.

Click here to subscribe to the EOP newsletter.

Leading the Way on Job Quality

Two Businesswomen Using Laptop In Boardroom MeetingWhat role should businesses play in creating good jobs? This month, we published profiles of three of our Job Quality Fellows who are working with businesses to help improve the quality of jobs they offer. Aron Cramer, president and CEO of Businesses for Social Responsibility, introduced these Fellows in a blog post that explores the importance of job quality as an integral part of inclusive growth.

The 2018-19 Job Quality Fellows meet in Aspen in August 2019.We convened our Job Quality Fellows in Aspen, bringing them together to engage with thorny issues, discuss solutions to common challenges, and build collaborative work across fields of capital formation, workforce development, employee ownership, and advocacy. The Fellows also were in conversation with Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and American studies and ethnicity at USC; Dorian Warren, president of Community Change; and Jennifer Briggs, partner at GRITT Business Coaching and former vice president of human resources at New Belgium Brewing, discussing issues and ideas related to advancing job quality and promoting equity. We look forward to continuing to work with all of our Job Quality Fellows.

Highlighting the Potential of Online Learning

A smiling Eat'n Park team member holding a pot of coffee and an exterior view an Eat'n Park restaurant.Online upskilling programs have the potential to help adults learn new skills and advance in a changing labor market. But working people with limited time, tech skills, access to technology, and other challenges often find navigating the online learning landscape difficult and discouraging. Reimagine Retail’s latest report documents a collaboration among Eat’n Park (a regional family restaurant chain), Robert Morris University, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development to design and deliver digital training to frontline Eat’n Park employees. The report describes how a pilot customer service training program improved customer satisfaction and contributed to an increase in workers’ tips, among other outcomes. You can read the full report here.

Promoting a More Equitable and Inclusive Economy

African American man working in warehouse, preparing goods for shipmentEOP is excited to announce that our staff team, with support from Associated Black Charities, will be reviewing and strengthening the way our research, communications, and capacity-building activities contribute to advancing racial equity. Historically and today, public policies, institutional practices, and individual bias have perpetuated disparate economic outcomes for people of color. As we continue to further our mission, we are doubling down on efforts to use our work, platforms, and relationships to promote a more inclusive and equitable labor market and economy. We appreciate the commitment of ABC, Workforce Matters, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to support and engage in capacity-building work alongside us.

Exploring the Future of Retail Work

Woman serving customer at the counter in a clothing storeWhat do changes in technology mean for the future of the retail industry and its workers? With Pacific Community Ventures, we co-hosted “What’s in Store? The Future of Retail Work(ers)” to explore this question. This San Francisco event included perspectives of workforce and economic development practitioners along with philanthropic leaders. Our latest blog post shares highlights from discussion at the event and examples of work being done to support economic mobility and small business success. Click here to read more.

Workforce boards across the country are working on new strategies to support the advancement of workers in the retail sector. Last month, the Workforce Strategies Initiative participated in a webinar to discuss these new approaches, preview forthcoming resources, and share results of a national survey conducted by the National Association of Workforce Boards. Leaders from the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce and the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership also participated in the discussion. You can watch the full webinar here.

Building the Upskilling Movement

Working Scholar graduate celebrates in front of the Study.com logoThis summer has been a busy one for the upskilling movement. Several major companies announced new and expanded programs that will offer opportunities for employees pursuing everything from GED diplomas to master’s degrees. These programs show a growing commitment from businesses to support the upskilling movement and invest in their employees through training and education. Learn more about these announcements here.

Measuring the Work of Small Business Lenders

EntrepreneurTrackerThe Business Ownership Initiative has been working for more than two decades to help microenterprise and small business development organizations capture information on the outcomes of the businesses they work with. We are currently onboarding programs to participate this fall in EntrepreneurTracker, which provides tools, analysis, and other support to help organizations survey the individuals and businesses they have served. If your organization is interested in capturing information on the number and quality of jobs your clients’ businesses create, their survival rates and revenues, or how their businesses contribute to their household’s income, EntrepreneurTracker may be able to help you. Contact Sarah Alvarez to learn more.

Building Local Networks of Workforce Development Leaders

Workforce Leadership Academies in the Economic Opportunity Fellows Network. as.pn/wlaWe are still accepting applications for the Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy; the deadline has been extended to September 6.

The New Orleans Workforce Leadership Academy met for the third time this month. The session focused on local systems building and included individual leadership feedback sessions for each fellow. This meeting also included an opportunity for fellows to build connections with other leaders in New Orleans through a reception hosted by the New Orleans Business Alliance in partnership with the Aspen Institute Socrates Program. In September, the Workforce Leadership Academies in Hudson County and Chicagoland will hold sessions focused on job quality and will be joined by EOP Executive Director Maureen Conway. Stay tuned for updates from those meetings!

Discussing Opportunity around the Country

Maureen Conway speaks at " Help Wanted: Building Opportunity in Today's Labor Market," a panel discussion hosted by the City Club of Cleveland on August 2, 2019.EOP Executive Director Maureen Conway keynoted two events in Ohio, discussing the changing labor market and its effects on working people. The two events, sponsored by the City Club of the Mahoning Valley and the City Club of Cleveland, brought together a range of local leaders from government, business, and civic organizations interested in strategies to ensure people have access to quality jobs.

How can workforce development organizations work with employers to support good jobs? Good Companies/Good Jobs Initiative Director Mark Popovich discussed the need to focus time on working with employers at the National Governors Association’s annual summer meeting of state workforce officials in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this month. Mark was joined by Jennifer Briggs, partner at GRITT Business Coaching and former vice president of human resources at New Belgium Brewing, who noted the rising role of employee ownership and its potential to create economic opportunity for frontline workers.

Upcoming at EOP

We are planning a series of new events this fall. Keep an eye out on our events page for upcoming dates, topics, and speakers!

Join the conversation

Follow us on social media to join the conversation.

What’s new at EOP? Learn how the @AspenInstitute Economic Opportunities Program is helping people connect to and thrive in a changing economy.

About EOP

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 Working 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.

Keep in touch

Click here to join our mailing list or sign up below. For updates every day, follow us on social media.

* indicates required

Mailing Lists


Our last newsletter
Employment and Jobs
What’s new at the Economic Opportunities Program, July 2019
July 31, 2019 • Economic Opportunities Program