CLEVELAND--January 18, 2019--The Fund for Our Economic Future (Fund), a collaboration of more than 40 funders working on inclusive economic growth in Northeast Ohio, has received a national grant of $600,000 to test innovations in transportation to help individuals connect to jobs and companies access the talent they need to compete.
Out of a pool of 19 applicants, Northeast Ohio was among four regions selected by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, a national network that promotes economic opportunity, to receive a total of $2.4 million. The funding was made possible by the Ballmer Group. To learn more about the projects supported in Atlanta, Baltimore and Syracuse, New York, click here.
"This award is the result of a number of organizations coming together around the shared goal of improving worker mobility and ending distance discrimination in Northeast Ohio," said Fund Vice President Bethia Burke. "We're grateful to the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP), Cuyahoga County, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), Towards Employment, Bloom Bakery, Alliance Solutions Group, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Cuyahoga Community College, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board, and Keolis Americas for rallying around our proposal and lending their time and expertise in helping us secure this important funding for the region."
Together with these partner organizations and others, the Fund will use the National Fund grant, which will be distributed over a period of three years, to support the development of up to 15 local pilots to test the efficacy of transportation innovations for residents from target neighborhoods to specific businesses with a targeted set of good jobs. The Fund anticipates outcomes of this work to not only realize equitable improvements in economic mobility, but to guide future public policy and public and private investments.
"Access to jobs is a growing challenge nationally as cities sprawl" said Dominic Mathew, the Fund's director of mobility innovation. "But the decline in access in Northeast Ohio is among the steepest in the country. Job seekers, particularly those in low-income communities, are faced with a false choice between a car and traditional public transit. Meanwhile, emerging multi-modal transportation alternatives place urban, suburban and rural mobility on the cusp of radical change."
The worker mobility pilots are part of the Fund's broader job access agenda that also includes building up job hubs, areas with a high concentration of jobs that contain high-quality sites, existing infrastructure and transportation access.
"We're focused on a two-fold approach to addressing the job access challenge in Northeast Ohio by helping to bring people to where jobs are now and also working to bring more jobs to where people live," said Burke. "We're interested in solutions that are sustainable, scalable and that result in long-term systemic change that can help reverse the harmful effects of no-growth sprawl."
"We're excited to work with the Fund on tackling worker mobility," said Dr. Floun'say Caver, RTA's interim CEO and general manager. "We appreciate being at the table so we can ensure we're making thoughtful adjustments and improvements to public transportation services. We're eager to be a part of creating and providing connectivity solutions and doing our part to help grow the region's workforce."
Marty McGann, GCP's senior vice president of advocacy and strategic initiatives, added: "Business connectivity and worker mobility are among the highest priorities of our Forward CLE strategic plan. We look forward to sharing the opportunities for innovation that arise from this funding with our members and ensuring the long-term success of this work."