We look forward to providing new updates on local and national trends and news in workforce development and how it pertains to the work we do at Towards Employment.
The TE policy agenda seeks to address persistent inequity and structural barriers that prevent job seekers from effectively participating in our labor market. We will do that through advocating for administrative and legislative policies that prepare unemployed and underemployed adults for projected job openings in NEO growth sectors; working to remove barriers to employment for individuals with criminal records and ensure that other systems are aligned to prevent individuals from losing out on career opportunities; supporting policies that ensure individuals, regardless of their zip code, have access to jobs with family sustaining wages; ensuring that as individuals obtain employment that they are on a path to career and advancement; as well as working to align and scale best practices through targeted investments and leveraged funding.
6.12.20: No Time To Waste
Towards Employment, we took time last week to process and create space for our staff and Board to reflect on the current critical and tumultuous upheaval our nation is facing. As a diverse group that reflects the complexity of thought of our community, this statement reflects and drives our ongoing journey.
We share in the horror and senselessness of the death of George Floyd, along with fury, sadness, frustration, outrage and disbelief that this is happening again, after Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, and now Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Desmond Franklin..… just to name a few of the victims of a law enforcement system which cannot seem to rid itself of a persistent and deadly racism, whether operating in Minnesota, Georgia, or Ohio.
We know from our work in policy and advocacy around criminal justice reform that Black people are 2.7 times as likely to be killed by police as White people, and unarmed Black Americans are roughly 5 times as likely as unarmed White Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer. From policing to sentencing to reentry, people of color are most likely to be arrested, charged, incarcerated, and the least likely to receive parole.
We see from our work connecting people to careers, which includes coaching them through the many barriers that exist on the road to economic self-sufficiency, that this disparity flows through every system of our society from criminal justice to health care, to education, to housing and to employment. Since COVID-19, fewer than 50% of Black adults have a job. Black workers make less money than White workers even when comparing those with similar education levels. As of 2016, you would need to combine the net worth of 11.5 black households to get the net worth of a typical white US households. (www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/04/economic-divide-black-households/)
We must do better, as a state and nation, as we reimagine our economy. We need to work to create a “better normal” that acknowledges and addresses the systemic racism that underlies these disparate outcomes and ensure that this understanding informs our strategies and programs. We must work harder to listen, to lift up the messages that we hear and provide a platform for the voices of those most impacted. While we focus on systemic issues, we must not lose sight of what we do as individuals and individual organizations and institutions.
At Towards Employment, we are committed to creating opportunities for our staff, board, and participants to personally examine what we can each do to be a part of the change, and to strategize what we can do as a TE family to strengthen our fight for racial justice. We know the first step for any individual or organization in this journey for racial justice is education. We have made commitments in the past, and will continue to resource and carve out time for our staff and board to participate in the Third Space Action Lab racial equity trainings and will continue to tap into and take advantage of the resources like those provided by the YWCA 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge; we have conducted a Race Matters organizational assessment followed up by deeper consultation to develop action plans that will enhance our ability to promote an explicit anti-racist culture and agenda.
We are also committed to walking alongside TE participants and graduates on their journey to build careers and access skills so that their dreams can become reality. We will continue to reach out to elected officials and the wider community to raise up the voices and experiences of TE participants and graduates to inform policy and legislative change. This is our mission and our passion, shaped by past racial injustice. We are invigorated to move forward empowered by the change happening around us.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Systemic racism is a problem for us all. We all have a role to play to bend the arc towards justice. The journey may be long, uncomfortable, and with setbacks. But we all must put one foot in front of the other and not look back. There is no time to waste.
--Staff and Board of Towards Employment
Racial Justice Resources
Understanding Systemic Racism
Equality and Inclusion in the Time of COVID-19
The Digital Divide
How to Be A Better Ally
Generation Work in Northeast Ohio
In Cuyahoga County, 1 out of every 7 people is an opportunity youth - a young person who isn't connected to work or school. These young people are more likely to experience health problems, encounter the criminal justice system, lose significant earnings over their lifetime and are disproportionately people of color. Bringing a racial equity and inclusion lens to employer engagement and training, positive youth development, and youth education, Generation Work is aligning workforce systems and leadership to provide better outcomes for Cuyahoga County's young people.