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Baltimore’s Connections Project Applies a Racial Equity Lens to Economic Opportunity for Homeless Jobseekers

By: Kyle Pierce, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

father and daughters

To wrap up our Connections Project blog series, the National Initiatives team chatted with Hannah Roberts, who coordinates Baltimore’s Journey to Jobs project. Looking at homelessness through a racial equity lens, Journey to Jobs aims to increase economic opportunity for homeless jobseekers by tackling two barriers to employment that disproportionally impact people of color: criminal records and child support payments.  In our conversation, Hannah shares how she’s working with Baltimore’s Connections Project team to develop savvy partnerships, gather data, and shape system-wide collaboration to expand employment and economic opportunity for Baltimore’s homeless jobseekers.

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Supporting Bold Goals: Ending Chronic Unemployment Among Men and Youth of Color

By Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

2016-03-19 - MY in Baltimore
Last month, we were honored to support the Campaign for Black Male Achievement in developing bold goals and indicators to help strategically guide the organization’s ongoing efforts to improve the life outcomes of black men and boys. While men and youth of color face a myriad of challenges in health, education, wealth, housing, and other social and economic outcomes, it’s clear to us and many others across the country that economic opportunity must be a key area of change. We must redouble our efforts to ensure that men and youth of color have access to employment and economic opportunity and we must measure our progress against these goals.

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The Dovetail Project Helps Young Fathers Succeed in Employment

By James A. Jones, Field Engagement Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

June 2015 Class
This Father’s Day, as we honor the contributions of dads across the country, we’d like to highlight the needs of an often overlooked population: young fathers. Between 1990 and 2010, the teen pregnancy rate declined by 51 percent. However, that decline may have been even greater if there were an increase in efforts to engage young fathers. Traditionally, young mothers have been at the center of research, prevention, and assistance efforts. As a result, little is known about best practices in engaging young fathers. What we do know is that teen fathers are less likely than their peers to graduate from high school and subsequently face significant barriers to employment and economic stability.

The Dovetail Project is a Chicago-based organization whose sole mission is increasing employment opportunities and parenting skills of young, at-risk fathers. Sheldon Smith, founder of the Dovetail Project, started the organization to address an issue that shaped his life as well as countless other young men in his community: absent fathers. As the son of a young father, Sheldon endured his father’s absence and lack of financial and emotional support, the result of unemployment, incarceration, and no parenting skills. This left Sheldon with a burning desire to end the cycle of fatherless children when he became a dad at age 20. The National Initiatives team recently spoke with Sheldon about the Dovetail Project and the strategies he attributes to its success.

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When ‘Deadbeat Dads’ Are Jailed, No One Wins

By Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

Illustration via The New York Times

Illustration via The New York Times

On April 20, The New York Times published a powerful piece arguing that the use of jail to pressure parents to pay child support traps low-income, noncustodial parents in “in a cycle of debt, unemployment and imprisonment.” We agree—and that’s why we’re thrilled that today, The Times printed our Letter to the Editor lifting up employment, not incarceration, as a way to help low-income parents support their families and meet their own needs. We hope you’ll read—and share!—our piece.

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To Be Smart on Crime, We Need To Be Smart on Employment

By Caitlin C. Schnur, Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

Photo via The Wall Street Journal

Photo via The Wall Street Journal

With the recently-launched Coalition for Public Safety and increasing congressional chatter about prison reform, making the nation’s criminal justice system smarter, fairer, and more cost effective is a rising priority—and it should be. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Our country has only five percent of the world’s population but one quarter of its prisoners, and a disproportionate percentage of those prisoners are men of color. Many of these prisoners will return to their communities. In 2010, about 10 percent of nonincarcerated men—and 25 percent of nonincarcerated black men—had a felony conviction. At the same time, our prison system has a revolving door: more than half of returning citizens will be imprisoned again within five years.

Mass incarceration inflicts a high cost on taxpayers, communities, and families alike. We need strategies that will help prevent criminal justice system involvement and reduce reincarceration—and the research continues to demonstrate that access to employment and education can do just that. Here’s why and how efforts to reform the criminal justice system should leverage employment strategies to counter mass incarceration and reduce recidivism.

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