Employment and Jobs

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

June 28, 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 driving change and helping low- and moderate-income Americans connect to and thrive in a changing economy.

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Expanding opportunity through business ownership

The Aspen Institute Business Ownership InitiativeWe’re excited to announce that FIELD is now the Business Ownership Initiative (BOI). This new name is an update to reflect how the initiative’s work has expanded since its founding, moving beyond microenterprise to include employee ownership, youth entrepreneurship, and more. To learn more about why we made this change and what it means for the future, read this blog post by BOI Director Joyce Klein and follow our new Twitter handle.

Measuring what matters: a discussion of metrics for Good Companies and Good Jobs at the Aspen Ideas Festival

Mark Popovich, Joyce Klein, and Sarah Keh at the Aspen Ideas FestivalHow do we define and measure what makes a good company and a good job? We hosted a panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival to explore the policies, practices, and tools that help businesses create good jobs, and how to create incentives to support the reform of business norms. The panel featured Sarah Keh, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Prudential Financial and Mark Popovich, director of the Good Companies/Good Jobs initiative, and was moderated by Joyce Klein, director of BOI.

Sharing tools to improve job quality

Group of smiling retail workersGood questions provide a good start for workforce development professionals seeking to build relationships with employers and learn about an industry. Our recently released retail-focused Question Bank tool offers ideas for such questions, and to help workforce professionals make the most of this tool we hosted a webinar with two leaders from the field. They shared their approach to conversations with business representatives and offered suggestions on using this tool. The full webinar, as well as additional resources to help you engage with employers, are available on our website.

Jen MustyThe latest issue of Ideas magazine features an article on our work with Reimagine Retail partner Pacific Community Ventures (PCV), a small business lender. PCV developed the Good Jobs, Good Business toolkit to help small businesses improve job quality and in turn strengthen financial performance. The article spotlights PCV’s work with Jen Musty, owner of San Francisco’s Batter Bakery, who piloted the toolkit this year. Musty developed new training sessions and incentives for workers, sparking an increase in retail sales. She also improved worker benefits and wages.

Exploring ideas to expand access to quality jobs

Panelists speak at "How Do We Create More Quality Jobs?" (Left to right: E.J. Dionne, Demetra Nightingale, Caryn York, Amanda Blondeau, Rick Plympton)This month we hosted a Working in America event, “Quality Jobs for All: What Would it Take?” to explore the challenges that workers face and to identify policies and practices that improve job quality. The panel brought together a researcher from the Urban Institute, which recently released a brief on the future of job quality, as well as three EOP Job Quality Fellows who take different approaches to supporting and creating quality jobs in their communities. Panelists discussed what makes a quality job and strategies that leaders can take to improve the quality of jobs for workers in our country.

Building a new network of workforce leaders in northern New Jersey

Fellows of the Hudson County Workforce Leadership Academy

The Hudson County Workforce Leadership Academy, a partnership between EOP and Hudson County Community College, held its first retreat this month. The Academy is a yearlong experience engaging a diverse set of Fellows, representing a wide range of organizations serving the Hudson County, New Jersey, community. At the retreat, Fellows heard from guest faculty Emylene Aspilla, EOP Job Quality Fellow and director of social responsibility and community sustainability of San Francisco Airport Commission, and Michael Roberts, executive director of Comprehensive Development Inc., who both shared case studies of specific challenges they faced in developing and delivering strategies to meet both employers’ and workers’ needs. The Hudson County Workforce Leadership Academy is part of EOP’s network of Workforce Leadership Academies.

Meeting with leaders to share our work

Joyce Klein speaks at the OFN Small Business Finance Forum

Our team traveled around the country to speak to other leaders and practitioners in the field and share our work. Joyce Klein, Director of BOI, participated in two panels at the OFN Small Business Finance Forum in Chicago on underwriting innovations in small business lending and promoting truth-in-lending protections for small businesses. Joyce also spoke at the Credit Builders Alliance Symposium in Washington, DC, joining a panel on the Responsible Business Lending Coalition’s work to advocate for truth-in-lending laws around the country.

Amazon warehouseEOP Executive Director Maureen Conway spoke on a panel at the Future of Work and Workers Conference in South Bend, Indiana, on how to support worker engagement and worker voice in a time of technological change. In addition, she participated in symposia hosted by Autodesk and Amazon, both of which brought diverse thought leaders together to discuss the ways in which technology is changing work and the opportunities for working people.

Maureen also hosted a lunch discussion on employee ownership in the context of opportunity zones at the Beyster Symposium. The symposium explores broad-based forms of financial participation in capital ownership and capital income. The Beyster Symposium has been supported for the last 11 years through the J. Robert Beyster Endowment at Rutgers University’s School of Management and Labor Relations and has benefited from the leadership of Joseph Blasi, Director of the Institute for Employment and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University and EOP Senior Fellow.

Also, Research Director Amy Blair and Senior Evaluation Manager Ranita Jain collaborated with colleagues from Aspen’s Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth program leaders on a panel at the Opportunity Youth Forum conference in Philadelphia. The group is developing and piloting practical tools for local explorations of the future of work, based on how work is changing now.

Good Companies/Good JobsGCGJ Director Mark Popovich met with city of Oakland, California, leaders to plan details for the first-ever pilot test in a public procurement process of Working Metrics – the software service created to assess, benchmark, and report at the company level job quality ratings and diversity outcomes. Mark also met with Project Equity, a national leader in the employee ownership and coop movement, to discuss how Working Metrics can collect people performance data from firms their organization advises and invests in.

Updating our look

The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities ProgramNotice something different? We’ve got a new logo! We’ve also made some other changes around our website, including updates that reflect the ways our work has grown in recent years.

Upcoming at EOP

Our Reimagine Retail initiative is planning on releasing a series of new reports in the coming months based on our recent work in the field. Keep an eye out for more learnings from the field from our team!

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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.

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Employment and Jobs
What’s new at the Economic Opportunities Program, May 2019
May 31, 2019 • Economic Opportunities Program