Expanding opportunity for workers

With more than 705,000 individuals living in poverty in our region, a focus on ensuring working adults are able to earn a family-sustaining wage is an essential part of our fight to end poverty. In Philadelphia alone, 22% of residents aged 25-64 are living in poverty. Twenty-five percent of these individuals are working, yet lack the learning opportunities and resources needed to benefit from recent job market expansion and economic development across the region.

One way United Way is addressing this community challenge is through the Job Opportunities Investment Network (JOIN) in partnership with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. JOIN is a collaborative of workforce development funders committed to fostering racial and social equity through inclusive community and economic development investments throughout the region.

JOIN's Impact

Establishing Best Practices Across Sectors

Learning Community

In partnership with the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) and Race Forward, JOIN has designed and is implementing the first local Workforce Benchmark Network (WBN) project to launch with the integration of a racial and social equity focus. The first of its kind in the nation and currently exclusively available to United Way Impact Partners, JOIN’s learning community seeks to strengthen the capacity of workforce development practitioners in order to increase the effectiveness of matchmaking between employers and career seekers in the region.

JOIN’s Racial & Social Equity Workforce Benchmark Network’s objectives are to:

  • Integrate racial and social equity into the current national WBN model
  • Improve data access and quality
  • Provide technical assistance (TA) and a peer network to build organizational capacity to use data for continuous improvement
  • Benchmark programs against similar programs nationally
  • Develop common tools and metrics to allow aggregate reporting and impact analysis

To learn more about JOIN’s learning community, contact the Director of JOIN, Carniesha Kwashie, at ckwashie@uwgpsnj.org or 215-665-2437.  

Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine

JOIN is proud to be a steering committee member of the City of Philadelphia’s Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine initiative. Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine is comprised of a coalition of partners focused on making the shift from finding jobs to developing careers.

What makes this workforce strategy different? It’s not just about placing individuals in short-term or entry-level jobs with no prospect of progression, but rather, providing a continuum of support to help Philadelphia residents build the skills they need to secure full-time jobs with opportunities for growth and advancement. The strategy focuses on closing the skills gap and works to reduce poverty by addressing the unique challenges that workers face, such as:

  • Aligning Philadelphia’s workforce, economic development and education institutions to business needs.
  • Strengthening key skills such as reading, writing, numeracy and digital literacy.
  • Developing a long-term strategy to increase economic mobility for residents living in poverty.
  • Preparing Philadelphia youth for college and careers.
  • Removing barriers for segments of the population who face greater obstacles to employment, like opportunity youth (ages 16-24, disconnected from school and work), residents returning from incarceration, and immigrants.

To view the Executive Summary for Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine, click here.

Carniesha Kwashie

Director of JOIN

“In Philadelphia alone, 22 percent of residents aged 25-64 are living in poverty. 25 percent of these individuals are working, yet lack the learning opportunities and resources needed to benefit from recent job market expansion and economic development across the region. JOIN is focused on dismantling these barriers to opportunity, breaking the cycle of poverty that traps families for generations.”

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