The Opening Doors Collaborative Aims to Increase Employment & Economic Opportunity Among Homeless Youth
By Caitlin C. Schnur, Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity with Leiha Edmonds, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives
Earlier this year, under our new National Center on Employment and Homelessness (NCEH) and with the generous support of the Oak Foundation and the Melville Charitable Trust, we selected five communities from across the country to be a part of the Connections Project. The Connections Project is a three-year, systems-level collaboration and capacity building project that aims to increase employment and economic opportunity for homeless job seekers. This fall, our five Connections Project Sites are launching their innovative systems collaboration ideas—and over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting their exciting work. First up is Minneapolis/Hennepin County’s Opening Doors Collaborative (ODC), our Connections Project Site that’s focused on improving employment access, outcomes, and program options for youth experiencing homelessness.
Connections Project Draws Teams of Innovators to D.C. to Advance Employment Solutions to Homelessness
By Carl Wiley, Coordinator, National Center on Employment and Homelessness (NCEH)
At the beginning of April, and with the generous support of the Oak Foundation and the Melville Charitable Trust, Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives team and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) co-hosted the Working to End Homelessness (WEH) Innovation Workshop in Washington, D.C. Our event brought together 10 Connections Project Finalist Teams from communities all across the country as they built partnerships and fine-tuned innovative ideas to connect homeless jobseekers to employment and greater economic opportunity. The Connections Project is a three year, place-based, systems-level collaboration and capacity-building project that aims to increase employment and economic opportunity for homeless jobseekers. The Workshop was energizing and constructive—and here’s a look at the highlights and takeaways.
By Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
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.
On a single night, over 600,000 Americans experience homelessness. People experiencing homelessness consistently name paid employment as one of their primary needs, alongside housing and healthcare. Recognizing the important role of employment in helping to prevent and end homelessness, the Oak Foundation and the Melville Charitable Trust have joined with Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity to launch the National Center on Employment and Homelessness (NCEH).
NCEH seeks to ensure that everyone who wants to work, regardless of the barriers they face, has the support and opportunities to reach that goal, and will work across programs, systems, and policies to ensure that homeless jobseekers have the support and services needed to succeed in employment. One of NCEH’s flagship efforts will be the Connections Project, a three year, place-based, systems-level collaboration and capacity-building project focused on increasing employment and economic opportunity for homeless jobseekers.
To coordinate the NCEH, our team is happy to welcome back Carl Wiley, who previously worked as a graduate student intern with Heartland’s Policy and Advocacy team. Carl recently received his Masters in Social Work from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and he has extensive experience working directly with populations experiencing homelessness including with youth at Heartland’s Neon Street Dorms.
Carl recently took a break from his busy schedule to share a bit about what NCEH has planned and why he thinks it is important to address the employment needs of people experiencing homelessness.