When so many residents in Greater Hartford face challenges to obtaining a livable wage, the impact is felt in all aspects of community and family life.
Our new Career Pathways Initiative is a strategic approach to this serious community problem – and a $3.95 million investment. The initiative targets residents with limited literacy and employment skills in the Capitol Region, including single parents, at-risk youth, immigrants, homeless heads of household, former offenders, and others who need a broad range of coordinated services to be successful.
In October of 2015, the Foundation awarded $450,000 to Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford to expand sector-based job training programs in our region. We also provided a $600,000 match to Capital Workforce Partners so they could secure an additional $1.4 million in I-Best funding through the Second Chance Society initiative to support training for previously incarcerated individuals in the Hartford area.
The Career Pathways Initiative will enhance or expand existing programs and pilot new, cross-cutting approaches.
It requires partnerships among adult literacy, community college, workforce development, support service and employment sectors to develop realistic and attainable career pathways. Education and training are contextualized to meet adult learners where they are, and all of the training-focused projects include employer involvement. MoveUP!, the Capital Adult Literacy Partnership, will provide technical assistance to the participating organizations.
The initiative consists of nine collaborations that are broad-based both geographically and culturally.
The smallest is a partnership between two organizations and the largest between twelve. Two projects reach out to immigrants and others at the lowest levels of literacy. Three reach out to parents, with a focus on single mothers. One will partner to support at-risk youth, and one will guide manufacturing careers for homeless people. One will enhance employment services and career tracks for returning offenders, and one for low-income and unemployed residents in North Hartford.
This project will also help us see how collaboration works. The grants require partners in each collaborative to formally define their roles and responsibilities, and to commit to quarterly "learning community" meetings. Evaluators will look at what is and isn't working, and we will share our learning so that others may benefit from it.
Creating opportunity for young adults
The Career Pathways Initiative also includes developing a comprehensive career pathway for young adults, ages 18-29. To facilitate this, the Foundation is collaborating with the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut and several area nonprofits. Together, we will support capacity building for ten organizations in Hartford to coordinate and implement their programs.
This collaboration earned the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which awarded a $100,000 one-year planning grant and up to $800,000 in implementation funding to coordinate and scale this work. Hartford is one of four communities nationally to be selected for this opportunity.