A total of up to $900,000 will be awarded over the next four years to a Hartford collaborative initiative to strengthen the next generation of workers and meet employer demand. The Annie E. Casey Foundation has announced plans to award $6 million in grants to increase job opportunities for young adults from low income families in Hartford and four other communities - Cleveland, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Hartford expects to receive up to $900,000 over the grant period for planning and implementation.
Through Generation Work, the Foundation aims to combine building relationships with businesses, factoring in their needs in the local economy, with youth development strategies to prepare young people for work, such as mentoring and on-the-job learning opportunities. Ultimately, the Casey Foundation hopes to help establish local networks of workforce development organizations that serve young job seekers and have strong connections with businesses.
The Hartford Generation Work initiative is led by United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, working with five other community partners:
- Capital Workforce Partners,
- Hartford Foundation for Public Giving,
- Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative,
- Our Piece of the Pie, and
- Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford.
Hartford’s initiative will connect young adults, including those out-of-school or work or underemployed, with education, training and employment for careers in manufacturing and healthcare, officials said. The initiative also intends to improve coordination and collaboration among partners and youth initiatives.
“The strength of our future workforce is one of our nation’s greatest assets and is critical to our ability to compete globally,” said Allison Gerber, a senior associate who oversees the Casey Foundation’s investments in improving job opportunities for low-income individuals and families. “The next generation is eager to work, but we must create more avenues for young adults to develop the knowledge and experience they need to succeed in the job market.”
While the Great Recession hit many hard, teens and young adults have experienced the most drastic drop in employment, data show. Millions of young people — particularly young people of color, justice-system involved, or aging out of foster care and from low-income families — face obstacles to employment or education, and the percentage of young people ages 18 to 29 in the job market nationwide has steadily declined in recent years. At the same time, employers often struggle to find workers with the right set of skills for available positions, Foundation officials point out.