Tag Archive | advocacy

How WIOA & HUD Combined State Planning Can Benefit Homeless Jobseekers

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

2015-11-04 - Combined State Planning

Employment in quality jobs is key to preventing and ending homelessness—yet millions of homeless jobseekers face significant barriers to employment success. Fortunately, there’s growing awareness and accountability in the homeless services system around increasing employment and economic opportunity for people experiencing homelessness. At the same time, under the recently passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the public workforce system aims to increase employment opportunities for jobseekers facing barriers, including homeless jobseekers. There’s clearly a shared goal here—and WIOA implementation offers a unique opportunity for these systems to work together: WIOA and HUD combined state planning.

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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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Vermont Works for Women: Connecting Women and Girls to the Transformative Power of Work

By David T. Applegate, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

TJat Intervale 2014

The impacts of poverty are deeply felt across racial and gender divides – but there is no denying that poverty is a particularly important issue for women. The numbers don’t lie: there are nearly 18 million women living in poverty in the United States and women are twice as likely as men to retire into poverty.

Vermont Works for Women (VWW) was founded 27 years ago with the intent of bridging the gender gap in employment – particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields like carpentry, plumbing, and other trades. Over time, VWW’s mission has expanded and evolved to a broader focus of promoting economic independence for women and girls.

Recently, Rachel Jolly – director of women’s programs at VWW – took the time to talk with the National Initiatives team about the employment services provided by VWW to women and girls in Vermont. In our interview, we discussed VWW’s emphasis on meeting individual participants where they are at in their employment and educational needs and the importance to the economy of increasing and diversifying the career opportunities for women and girls.

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Transitional Jobs Programs Need to Prioritize Job Quality

By Chris Warland, Associate Director for Field Building, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

Photo via San Jacinto College.

Photo via San Jacinto College.

Job quality for entry-level workers in the US is pretty dismal. The minimum wage is historically very low when adjusted for inflation, wage theft and other violations of wage and hour laws are commonplace, and employers often limit workers to part-time status or misclassify them as independent contractors in order to avoid offering benefits or paying overtime. New scheduling software allows employers to assign workers for short, unpredictable shifts in a way that maximizes profit but makes it difficult to plan transportation, arrange for childcare, or work more than one job (which is often necessary when you’re limited to part-time work).

We know that just getting a job is often not enough to allow an individual or family to escape poverty in America. There are millions of “working poor” Americans for whom the promise of hard work as a means to stability and security has not materialized. Over sixty-five percent of households living in poverty contain at least one working adult.

If transitional jobs programs succeed only in moving job seekers from chronic unemployment into low-wage, low-quality jobs, we have failed. We are merely adding to the numbers of the “working poor”—and we can do better.

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Five Good Ideas to Combat Poverty in America

By David T. Applegate, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

AmyR_Edited

With midterm elections only a few weeks away, politicians are busy on the campaign trail talking to millions of Americans about our nation’s challenges and their plans for how to address them effectively. As candidates frame the issues, debate ideas, and seek to draw voters to the polls, we believe there’s one pressing issue that deserves to be on the top of the agenda: poverty.

The most recent poverty data show that 14.5 percent of Americans, or 45.3 million people, live in poverty. Nearly 20 million Americans are considered extremely poor which, for a family of three, means living on less than about $9,000 per year. Digging deeper into these numbers, nearly one in five children lives in poverty and as many as 6.5 million children live in families that are extremely poor. Hispanics and African-Americans represent 30 percent of the total population, but 52.5 percent of the population living in poverty.

We believe that every person deserves the opportunity to support themselves and their families and that no one should live in poverty. As we enter the final weeks of the 2014 election season, we have five anti-poverty strategies that we’d like to see candidates talking about—and taking action on once they’re in office.

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