Corridors to Careers 2.0: Improving Employment Outcomes through Community Connectors

November 25, 2015

By Lisa Guetzkow, Director-Employment Services at Goodwill-Easter Seals, MN

 

Launched in 2014 and concluding in June 2015, Corridors 2 Careers (C2C) 2.0 was an innovative partnership between the Ramsey County Workforce Investment Board, Ramsey County Workforce Solutions, and Goodwill-Easter Seals that promotes widespread community involvement in building a strong local economy through workforce development along the Green Line.  The partnership focused primarily in the Frogtown, Summit-University, Skyline Tower, Glendale Townhomes Community and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods.

We believe that fostering relationships in the community leads to connecting job seekers to jobs and workforce services.  We’ve done this by having three trusted members of the community called “Connectors”  do outreach and meet with residents to locate a “personal fit” with a workforce service provider, connecting businesses to work-ready job applicants, and by aligning employers and workforce agencies. The Connectors either live, work, or are a part of the community and know the community well. They spend their time finding “unconnected” job seekers in community settings, events and gatherings that not always are specified for employment services.  We call this the “right support and the right time.”

Additionally, strong rapport and relationships allow the Connectors to learn about the workforce needs of job seekers over time who are ineligible for specific programs. Often times, programs have very specific population requirements that not all job seekers fit. In addition, job seekers may have a hard time finding employment through basic workshops and or self-directed services. In such cases, the Connectors do the job placement support directly.

By organizing specific community Resource Fairs, Job Clubs, and Job Fairs that are created in partnership with and for the community, a more engaging and successful job search ensues.  Resource Fairs are especially important as obtaining and maintaining successful work impacts the degree of stability an individual has in other areas of life like housing, transportation, and nutrition.

In less than 18 months, the Connectors “connected” with 241 residents, provided job search services to 158 individuals, connected 18 individuals to training opportunities, made 71 new job placements (over half are full-time), and improved residents’ monthly income by a total average of 130% from their new wages! The job placements ranged from health care to warehouse, office to maintenance positions and more. 

The job seekers ranged in age from 16 to 65, more than half had less than a high school diploma or GED and 93% were people of color.   Connectors worked with 25 partner organizations and participated in 34 community events.

Corridors 2 Careers has lifted up the possibilities of a place-based, community-centered job placement model and the importance of providing the “right support at the right time.”  We are sharing and learning from this work to continue developing work-ready communities.