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.
Advancing job quality through capital strategies
Investors and lenders can support quality jobs by creating incentives, working with businesses, and creating new opportunities for ownership. This month, we released profiles of five of our Job Quality Fellows – Amanda Blondeau, Tomas Duran, Alison Lingane, Bhairvee Shavdia, and Eric Weaver – who are working to expand opportunity by influencing how capital is used. A blog post by Lisa Mensah, president and CEO of the Opportunity Finance Network and member of EOP’s advisory council, shares how these Fellows’ work expands on decades of investment in underserved communities by OFN’s members.
Spreading the word about upskilling
Jaime Fall discussed the value of upskilling on a new podcast from Workday, sharing how businesses can design training and education programs that meet their needs and examples of successful programs from across the country. You can listen to the full podcast or read the transcript of the conversation here.
Building networks of local workforce leaders
Fellows from the New Orleans Workforce Leadership Academy met for the second time in May, exploring evidence-informed practices and sharing their current workforce strategies with a focus on racial equity. The Fellows were joined by Clair Watson-Minson of Associated Black Charities, who shared insights from her experience in maritime and logistics training programs. Next month, the Hudson County Workforce Leadership Academy will be announcing its cohort of Fellows – keep an eye out for an announcement soon!
Exploring the potential of employee ownership
How can businesses attract workers and improve their bottom lines? Give employees a stake in the business. In a new article in The Conversation, EOP Executive Director Maureen Conway, along with Senior Fellow Joseph Blasi and Rutgers Associate Dean Douglas L. Kruse, explore research showing that not only do Americans—Republicans, Democrats and independents alike—prefer to work for employee-owned businesses, but that that firms with a form a profit-sharing outperform their peers on a variety of measures. Policies to encourage shared capitalism are gaining traction in Congress and on the campaign trail, and incentives to support sharing profits or ownership can be a win-win for workers and businesses alike.
Helping workforce professionals build better relationships with businesses
To help leaders better use our recently released Question Bank tool, we held a webinar with experts who discussed strategies to lead conversations with employers. Tonya Cody-Robinson of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and Ellen Johnson of the Chicago Jobs Council shared how they use an inquiry-based approach to build relationships with business leaders and create opportunities to work together. If you missed it, you can watch the webinar here.
Increasing transparency in small business lending
The Responsible Business Lending Coalition, of which FIELD is a member, received an award from the California Reinvestment Coalition in Oakland for its work to support the passage of a truth-in-lending law for small business lending in California. The RBLC was given the Community Heroes Award for its work with other partners to pass the law, the first of its kind in the nation.
Building incentives for job quality through data and benchmarks
Good Companies/Good Jobs initiative Director Mark Popovich presented at the MIT Sloan School of Management’s Institute for Work and Employment Research on the experiences and lessons gained since the formal launch of our new job quality tool last year. The presentation focused on design decisions and how the data that the Working Metrics tool generates can benchmark people outcomes for employers. In addition to the seminar, Mark discussed the tool and what we’re learning with colleagues including MIT’s Paul Osterman, a member of the EOP Advisory Council; Zeynep Ton, author of The Good Jobs Strategy, and Barbara Dyer, director of MIT’s Good Companies/Good Jobs Initiative.
Leading and joining conversations with workforce leaders
This month, Senior Research Associate Amanda Newman joined two Reimagine Retail partners to present at the San Diego California Workforce Association Workcon 2019 Conference. Amanda joined Kristy Henrich of Pacific Community Ventures and small business owner Jen Musty to share PCV’s Good Jobs, Good Business toolkit with workforce providers. Amanda also led a session with Sarah Burns, Research Director at San Diego Workforce Partnership, titled “Using Labor Market Research to Promote the Resilience of Retail Companies and Workers.” In these sessions, representatives from workforce boards and workforce practitioners were eager to learn more about strategies to engage retail employers and improve stability and mobility for retail workers. Also, Senior Project Manager Jenny Weissbourd spoke on a panel on workforce development and food access at the 8th Annual Convening on Healthy Food Access, which brings together policymakers, food retailers, financial institutions and advocates to discuss policy solutions to increase food access.
Upcoming at EOP
On June 13, we will be hosting an event in partnership with the Urban Institute on how to encourage polices and practices that support quality jobs. The panel fellows will feature Demetra Nightingale, a fellow at the Urban Institute, and three of our Job Quality Fellows working in business, community development finance, and policy to create quality jobs in their communities. RSVP here.
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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. EOP works to address the systemic issues of race, gender, and place in economic inequality and to advance an inclusive vision of economic justice. 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.
Thank you to our many partners and funders for supporting our efforts.
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