Nurturing a Movement: Launching the Pathways Forward Learning Forum
By Amelia Nawn (Graduate Student Intern) and Carrie Felton (NCEH Project Manager)
Our work in communities tells us—and research confirms—that people experiencing homelessness need to, want to, can, and do work. Despite this reality, far too few people experiencing homelessness are being connected to employment and income supports needed for housing stability.
Grounded in our belief that public systems must support all unstably housed people in obtaining employment and the income necessary for long-term housing stability, Heartland Alliance’s National Center on Employment and Homelessness is very excited to launch the Pathways Forward Learning Forum—a one-year community of practice that aims to catalyze and support stakeholders’ efforts to increase employment for homeless jobseekers in their communities. Participants in the Learning Forum will engage in a series of monthly interactive digital sessions with peers from across the country.
Since the inception of the National Center on Employment and Homelessness, our team has observed a growing number of stakeholders in communities across the county recognize the need for better, more equitable pathways to employment for homeless jobseekers and leading local efforts for change. We developed the Learning Forum, in part, in order to bring these local champions together in order to share experience, insights, lessons learned, and catalyze action.
“The Learning Forum aims to nurture the growing movement of champions working to create better, more equitable pathways to employment for all homeless jobseekers in their communities. We see this movement-building as instrumental in achieving broad systems and policy change.” – Carrie Felton, Heartland Alliance NCEH Project Manager
Participants in the Learning Forum will engage in a series of monthly remote meetings in order to achieve the following goals and outcomes:
- Expand their toolbox of skills and approaches to advance employment and income for homeless jobseekers.
- Exchange lessons learned, successes achieved, and challenges faced with a network of peers from across the country.
- Learn what’s working to better connect homeless jobseekers to employment supports from a variety of leaders in the field, including members of the Heartland Alliance team and other experts.
- Be part of a national movement advancing employment as a key element in preventing and ending homelessness which 1) can lend legitimacy to local efforts and 2) provides a platform for local efforts to influence and inform federal agency and policy actions.
- Take action toward creating more effective and equitable pathways to employment for homeless jobseekers.
This month, we launched the first cohort of the Learning Forum including stakeholders representing the following eleven communities:
- Dane County, WI
- Detroit, MI
- Greater New Haven, CT
- Hampden County, MA
- Hennepin County, MN
- Los Angeles County, CA
- Orange County, CA
- Portland, OR
- San Diego, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Tulsa, OK
NCEH looks forward to the solutions-focused work to be done by the Learning Forum participants, and hopes to share out on their progress and achievements over the course of the year-long initiative. While the current cohort of the Learning Forum is already underway, our hope is to continue supporting peer-learning opportunities for a wide range of diverse communities seeking to increase employment and income for homeless jobseekers. So stay tuned for more opportunities to connect, grow, learn and support the efforts to build better pathways to employment for folks experiencing homelessness in your community!
Many Pathways Forward…
Earlier this year, Heartland Alliance’s National Center on Employment & Homelessness (NCEH), with the support of the Oak Foundation and the Melville Charitable Trust, launched a related initiative called the Pathways Forward Challenge—a place-based project to catalyze and support the creation of better, more equitable pathways to employment for people experiencing homelessness through bold systems change and collaboration. Through the Pathways Forward Challenge, NCEH selected seven communities to receive intensive technical assistance, financial resources, and access to peer learning opportunities as they advance their systems change ideas to increase employment for homeless jobseekers over a two-and-a-half-year project period. Our hope is to create opportunities for Pathways Forward Challenge communities and those participating in the Learning Forum to connect with and learn from each other.
Find out more about the Pathways Forward Challenge here.