Mayor Jorge Elorza today announced that the City of Providence has been awarded a $400,000 grant through the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’ s Rhode Island Working Cities Challenge (WCC). The grant will aid the implementation of the PVD–Transforming its Workforce System Initiative proposed by the Providence Working Cities Challenge Team, which was led by the City’s Office of Economic Opportunity.
The winning proposal put forth with collaborative efforts by a diverse group of community organizations, public and private organizations, and Providence residents aims to enhance how the City’s workforce system connects to and works with underserved job seekers through the creation of four (4) Neighborhood-based Connection Sites that will expand access to robust employment services.
“A signature initiative of my Administration is to help lift people and families out of poverty through the restructuring of workforce development, “said Mayor Elorza. “This investment by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is recognition of the important work the City is doing to ensure that all residents have the skills they need to compete in the 21st Century economy.”
According to a 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) by the United States Census Bureau, the City of Providence had approximately 8,000 unemployed residents. As part of the initiative, the City will create new pathways and pipelines in addition to the Providence NetworkRI One Stop Center (One Stop) for unemployed residents to access training and employment services necessary to gain better access to high-growth and high-wage industries in the regional economy.
Connection Sites, which will provide services through collaborative efforts of a Mobile Team composed of One Stop staff and Connection Site staff, include community-based organizations or public sites that have trusted relationships with the target population within the scope of the initiative. In most cases, partners are already providing adult education and workforce development services to clients.
The four (4) pilot Connection Sites that will allow residents to access services within their neighborhoods include the Providence Career and Technical Academy, the Providence Housing Authority, the Genesis Center, and Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island. Initiative partners combined have committed over $190,000 in in-kind support throughout a 3-year period.
Additionally, the Providence Working Cities Challenge Team intends on working with One Stop to brand, market, and promote the new community access points; extend hours for better accessibility; pilot revisions to streamline the intake process at community sites, and provide One Stop and Connection Site staff strengths-based career counseling and cultural competence training.
The City has committed $57,500 in funds over 3 years to supplement program development and to support the advertisement of the community locations. The City has also committed in-kind support amounting to $179,000 over 3 years in dedicated staff time by the directors of the Office of Economic Opportunity, First Source Providence, Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston, two (2) employment counselors, the Director of Career and Technical Education Programs and Coordinators.
About the City of Providence’s Office of Economic Opportunity:
The Office of Economic Opportunity has been created through a restructuring of City functions and works with a focus on inclusivity and racial equity. The vision of the Office is to expand opportunities for the City’s low-income and unemployed residents to gain the skills and credentials needed to succeed in the 21st Century economy, reduce income inequality, and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. The mission is realized through the intentional and strategic deployment of comprehensive employment services, skills training, workforce development, small business capacity building and technical assistance, entrepreneurship support, and youth programs targeting low-income persons and economically distressed neighborhoods to support economic growth, improve the quality of life, and strengthen communities and neighborhoods.
About the Working Cities Challenge
The Working Cities Challenge, launched in 2013 in Massachusetts, builds on Boston Fed research that identified cross-sector collaboration and leadership as the key ingredients in resurgent smaller cities across the country. The Working Cities Challenge in Rhode Island builds upon the success of the initiative in Massachusetts (now in its second round of competition).
In August 2016, seven Rhode Island communities received $15,000 design grants to sharpen their proposals. After a six-month design phase, the teams submitted implementation award applications to and were interviewed by an independent jury, which selected Cranston, Newport, and Providence in April 2017.
Funding for the Working Cities Challenge is not provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston but by a collaboration of the state of Rhode Island including the Raimondo Administration, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, the Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training, and Rhode Island Housing. Funding is also provided by local and national philanthropic organizations including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation, Living Cities, and NeighborWorks America, as well as private-sector firms including Delta Dental of Rhode Island, Bank of America, the Washington Trust Company, AT&T New England, Verizon, and Webster Bank.