There are over 100,000 jobs in the city of Hartford, yet Hartford residents hold fewer than 17 percent of those jobs. Despite a range of workforce preparedness programs in Hartford, high unemployment rates in south-central Hartford exceed both the national average and the city average. The large number of jobs available in Hartford versus the high unemployment rate is largely attributed to the mismatch between the skills needed for these jobs and the skills of the city’s workforce. However, research done by the Southside Institutions Alliance (SINA) indicates that many jobs in the city’s south end require only a high school diploma or less.
SINA, a partnership between Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford Hospital and Trinity College, works with community stakeholders to restore economic vitality and improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods of south-central Hartford. In an effort to employ more south-end residents, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has awarded a three-year, $302,000 grant to SINA to support a new program that matches south end residents with jobs available among SINA’s partners.
“We are delighted to have the support of the Hartford Foundation for this program,” said SINA executive director, Melvyn Colon. “It provides vital support to a program we have spent years putting together. SINA’s partners need good employees, neighborhood residents need good jobs. We are working with a strong group of partners in the job training field who will help prepare neighborhood residents for jobs in the institutions. Job training programs and institutional employers influence labor demand and supply at the regional level. The innovation that marks this program is to introduce a place-based approach to meeting institutional labor demand so that the hiring practices of the institutions promote community economic development.”
According to the latest data, the unemployment rate among those served by the “Walk to Work” program is 19 percent. Unemployment among youth ages 16-29 in those neighborhoods is estimated at 23 percent. This project is unique because major neighborhood employers have agreed to turn to SINA for a pipeline of job-ready residents when filling entry-level jobs. Employers have also committed to providing funding for the program through their support of SINA. Foundation funds will be used by SINA to hire a career navigator who will work within existing training programs to ensure participants gain the skills sought by employers. In addition, the navigator will provide ongoing support to those employed through the program, to help with job retention.
"As a healthcare organization and a SINA partner, we understand that both the health and well-being of a community are directly linked to safe housing and gainful employment," said Bimal Patel, President, Hartford Hospital. "We are proud to support this important initiative at SINA and support the overall mission - to improve the economic vitality and quality of life for the people who live, work, play and study in our surrounding neighborhoods."
The Walk to Work program’s goal is to place 110-135 unemployed neighborhood residents in entry-level employment over three years. This project to provide more Greater Hartford residents with clearer pathways to employment and career advancement is an example of the Hartford Foundation’s strategic focus on family economic security. The Foundation has made significant investments to help remove the barriers many residents face to obtaining stable employment and provide economic security to their families.
“We are pleased to support SINA and its partners as they implement neighborhood-based solutions to employment,” said Hartford Foundation community investments officer, Erika Frank. “We know that there is a need for greater alignment between training programs and employer needs and are looking forward to learning, along with the partnership, the best ways to bridge that gap.”
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $700 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.