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How Three Government Agencies Are Helping Underserved Communities

Civic leaders in communities across America are striving to lift their underserved populations. FUSE, a NationSwell Council institutional member, helps city and county governments by partnering them with executive level fellows. Recruited from outside these agencies, FUSE fellows bring expertise and innovative ideas to civic challenges. FUSE worked on the following three projects to help agencies across the country better serve their most vulnerable residents.

In Los Angeles County — where more than 17,000 men and women constitute America’s largest jail population — reducing recidivism is paramount. To that end, L.A. County is focusing on helping those newly released from jail gain access to sustainable employment. The Department of Workforce Development, Aging & Community Services (WDACS) partnered with FUSE executive fellows Casswell Goodman and Alex-Handrah Aimé on a countywide campaign. These two fellows created a media campaign targeting potential employers; it focused on removing the stigma associated with reentry populations and underscoring the benefits of being a “fair chance” employer. They also helped design a digital tool that aggregates reentry resources from across the county — from both private and public sectors — and spearheaded a pilot program to place justice-involved youth in internships.

In Long Beach, California, nearly 25 percent of the residents are older than 50, and nine percent are over 65. This diverse population is expected to grow even larger during the next decade. To respond to the expanding need for senior programs and services, the city’s Community Health Bureau partnered with FUSE executive fellow Karen Doolittle, who helped establish the Long Beach Healthy Aging Center. Karen helped direct the center’s initiatives and programming, including the rollout of an online referral system for seniors in need of services. Moving forward, the city is taking a holistic view of senior health and providing services beyond clinical care, such as in-home support for daily chores and assistance picking up medicine or buying groceries.

In Philadelphia, where the poverty rate is nearly 26 percent, the city is shifting its workforce development efforts from short-term job training to long-term career planning and advancement. The city created the Office of Workforce Development and partnered with FUSE executive fellow Barry Wilkins to bring together local businesses, industry organizations, educational institutions, and city agencies to discuss potential solutions to the city’s challenges, starting with how Philadelphia can prepare more workers for careers in tech. By convening these groups, the city learned what skills the tech industry was seeking beyond the typical Master’s degree. The groups are now working together to build an effective and inclusive workforce system that addresses the needs of residents and employers.

 

[Photo credit: Josh Edgoose]

 

 

Originally published in NationSwell Council.