The Fund for Our Economic Future is proud to have supported the WorkAdvance demonstration project in Northeast Ohio over the last five years. The national, five-year pilot demonstrated an ability to deliver workforce services more effectively for low-income individuals and connect employers to talent they need. At the heart of the change was a comprehensive provision of services, focusing on targeted sectors and emphasizing advancement.
Designed by MDRC, a national social policy research firm, in partnership with the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), WorkAdvance had test sites in New York and Tulsa, Oklahoma, in addition to Northeast Ohio, and was supported by the White House Social Innovation Fund and local partners. Cleveland-based nonprofit Towards Employment coordinated the effort locally, and it was supported by the Fund and other national funders.
In November 2016, the Fund, The Raymond John Wean Foundation, Deaconess Foundation, and Towards Employment released a report that shares the impact the pilot had in Cuyahoga County and the Mahoning Valley. It builds off of analysis released by MDRC in August, titled "Encouraging Evidence on a Sector-Focused Advancement Strategy," that includes results for all the test sites.
Results show WorkAdvance is a clear winner. Northeast Ohio program participants accessed more services; were 49 percent more likely to work in a targeted sector (health care or manufacturing) and more likely to be working regular shift, fulltime, or in a permanent job, and in a job with opportunities for career advancement; and averaged a 14 percent increase in earnings after two years.
A key revelation was the important role career coaching plays in an individual's advancement along a career pathway. Those who received WorkAdvance services in Northeast Ohio were 10 times more likely to have advanced if they accessed post-employment coaching. Another key success factor in the local implementation was collaboration across multiple partners in Cuyahoga County and the Mahoning Valley.
Already, learnings from this demonstration are being adopted around the region. The Fund and its members are keen to continue building on these lessons. To learn more, contact Director of Strategy and Resource Allocation Bethia Burke.
For hard copies of the report, please email Director of Communications Sara McCarthy.