We are pleased to bring you the latest edition of the Economic Opportunities Program’s newsletter! Learn how the Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) and its initiatives are driving change and helping low- and moderate-income Americans connect to and thrive in a changing economy.
Working in America
As part of the Working in America series we hosted an event titled, “Having a Stake: The Potential of Employee Share Ownership for Workers and Businesses.” After opening remarks from Rep. Erik Paulsen on the value of employee ownership in creating opportunity, panelists shared their experiences in companies with employee share ownership and discussed strategies to give workers a greater stake in our economy. The event was organized along with the Financial Security Program as part of our joint work on Reconnecting Work and Wealth. You can watch the full video now.
Reconnecting Work and Wealth
This summer, the Economic Opportunities program worked to highlight the connections between work and wealth, and how income inequality and financial insecurity are creating challenges for low- and middle-income workers today.
July marked the third Economic Security Summit, where we collaborated with the Financial Security Program to convene more than 30 leaders in the work and wealth fields to discuss how to bring more equity to labor and finance, and give voice to those who are often underrepresented in these discussions. Keep an eye out the coming weeks for a series of blog posts on the rich discussions held and how participants will be integrating them into their work.
This summit came on the heels of an event on how to restore economic prosperity to families and communities across America. The panel, “The Future of Work and Wealth: Lessons Learned & Moving Forward,” convened experts from the Institute, philanthropy, and nonprofits that are working to make sure that people, especially those in low-income and underserved communities, are able to achieve financial security. On the same day, we released our report from the 2017 summit, where participants identified the challenges they face and articulated a vision of what a more inclusive system would look like. To learn more, watch the full video of the event here and read the 2017 Economic Security Summit Report here.
Highlighting Leaders in the Field
At this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, Economic Opportunities Program Executive Director Maureen Conway hosted two events with Eileen Fisher, founder and chairwoman of Eileen Fisher Inc., a certified B corporation with profit sharing, employee ownership, and other benefits for its employees. Eileen discussed how her company gives employees a stake in the work they do and takes a socially conscious approach to its business. The full Facebook Live interview is available here.
In July, we also published three new interviews with our Job Quality Fellows. The interviews, with J.D. LaRock, Anjali Sakaria, and Jenny Riggenbach, discussed how they collaborate with external partners and other fellows to create quality jobs. These profiles are the latest in a series, and the final interviews with the first cohort of fellows will be released in the coming months.
In June, FIELD Director Joyce Klein moderated two panels at the Opportunity Finance Network Small Business Finance Forum in Chicago. These panels covered how pricing drives scale in microbusiness lending and the liquidity challenges that community development financial institutions (CDFIs) face; highlighting the work of FIELD’s Microfinance Impact Collaborative member organizations.
Tweet: EOP is highlighting leaders in the field. Learn about the exceptional work of people like Eileen Fisher, @JDLaRock, Anjali Sakaria, @JennyRiggenbach, & microenterprise leaders at the @OppFinance #SmallBiz Finance Forum.
New Tools and Approaches
A new report from the Workforce Strategies Initiative highlighted the value of “now jobs,” which can provide an important step for young adults in workforce development programs and help prepare them for long-term career opportunities. The report details how these jobs can fulfill both immediate and long-term needs, such as income, work experience and networking opportunities. It also identifies considerations that programs need to take into account in implementing now jobs. The full report is available here.
In July, Upskill America, in collaboration with i4cp, released a tool to help employers develop tuition assistance programs that truly offer opportunities for their workers to develop and advance in their careers. The tool, created thanks to a grant from Walmart, identifies the seven characteristics of effective tuition assistance programs to help organizations model theirs after best practices from the field. The tool is the first in a series that Upskill America will be releasing.
Upskill America also updated its Upskilling Playbook for Employers, adding new initiatives from forward-looking employers to serve as models for others looking to learn more.
Last week, FIELD opened its 2017 US Microenterprise Census Survey, which tracks the collective work of microenterprise development organizations across the country. The data is used to build the industry and demonstrate the scale, scope, and performance of organizations’ activities. Participants are encouraged to submit their data by August 30 to receive an upgrade to a premium subscription.
In an opinion piece in Fast Company, Maureen Conway also challenged leaders to reconsider how they approach job training programs and look beyond just giving individuals new skills. These programs should be built them into broad strategies that support workers as they train, and ensure that they are being prepared for well-paying, stable jobs.
Upcoming for the Economic Opportunities Program
Upskill America will be releasing additional tools in its series to help employers educate, train, and support frontline workers’ development in the coming weeks. We will also be publishing the final profiles from our inaugural cohort of Job Quality Fellows.
Keep an eye out on our events page for new Working in America events coming this fall!
From the Aspen Institute blog
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In communities across the country, providers are working in new ways to identify and cultivate job opportunities that meet a range of young adults’ needs. #GenWork @RanitaJain1 @amyblair63 @AECFNews https://t.co/DNFFTx1f7N
— Workforce Strategies (@AspenWorkforce) June 20, 2018
— FIELD at Aspen (@AspenMicro) July 13, 2018
As we continue to learn from @Walmart‘s example, “I hope we can improve tuition assistance programs across all companies, multiplying the impact for a far greater number of workers.”
— UpSkill America (@upskillamerica) July 13, 2018
The Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) advances promising strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income Americans connect to and thrive in a changing economy. Over its 25 years of work, EOP has focused on expanding individuals’ opportunities to connect to quality work, to start businesses, and to build assets and economic stability. For more information, visit aspeninstitute.org/eop.
EOP has several initiatives, including the Workforce Strategies Initiative, FIELD, UpSkill America, and Good Companies/Good Jobs. Learn more about these initiatives by visiting their respective websites: aspeninstitute.org/wsi, aspeninstitute.org/field, aspeninsitute.org/gcgj, and aspeninstitute.org/upskill.
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. For more information, visit aspeninstitute.org.
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Tweet EOP is highlighting leaders in the field. Learn about the exceptional work of people like Eileen Fisher, @JDLaRock, Anjali Sakaria, @JennyRiggenbach, & microenterprise leaders at the @OppFinance #SmallBiz Finance Forum.