Author: Anita Brown-Graham (page 1 of 2)

A Note to Human Service Programs: Four More Practices for Building Social Capital During COVID-19

Co-Authors: Maureen Berner, UNC SOG; Phillip Graham, RTI; Justin Landwehr, RTI; Brooklyn Mills, ncIMPACT

 

In the first installment of this blog series, A Note to Human Service Programs: You Can Still Build Social Connections in a Time of Social Isolation, we shared the definition of social capital, insights on different types of social capital, and general principles that human service programs seeking to build social capital should consider. In the second, A Note to Human Service Agencies: Think About What Type of Social Capital You Most Need to Build Online, we shared insights on different types of social capital and general principles that human service programs seeking to build social capital should consider.

In the third installment, A Note to Human Service Programs: Three Practices for Building Social Capital During COVID-19, we focused on three questions and corresponding practices:

  1. How and Where Will We Connect? – Use Peer Groups with a Facilitator to Engage Participants;
  2. How Will This Make a Difference? – Help Participants Build Quality and Meaningful Relationships
  3. Is What’s Yours Mine? – Tapping into Social Capital in Organizations to Increase Participant Social Capital

As you read through the following additional social capital practices, remember there is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping participants build social capital in a human services program.  Every program has a different context with different values and goals. You, the program managers and directors, know best the population you are trying to serve. That said, here are some questions and practices that might help you.

What Matters Here? – Use Data and Logic Models for Social Capital Decision-Making and Evaluation

This may be the perfect opportunity to focus on data that are key to answering questions about the importance of social capital to your program outcomes. For example, you might use a simple email or text-based survey with applications such as Survey Monkey or PollEverywhere to gather data on participants’ relationships with potential employers. This might help organizations be prepared to aid individuals to better leverage those connections for advice, training, and information about job openings during and when the pandemic is over. In another example, you might ask program participants to list their sources of bonding capital to reveal whether the connections are likely to hinder, rather than help, program outcomes, such as cases of criminal activity.

Of course, this national emergency is not the time to overly burden program participants. Many may be feeling stressed and struggling to manage all the new restrictions on everyday life. Whatever data collection you do should be easy to complete and the value must be clear to program participants.

Finally, this may be a good time for a virtual team meeting among staff to stress test the organization’s logic model.  Logic models are a type of map that outline, in step-by-step fashion, how programs progress from resources and activities to short- and long-term outcomes. Does yours stand up to your aspirations for building and leveraging participants’ social capital in times such as this? This may be a time to engage your staff and a few participants in a virtual conversation supported by tools such as Zoom and Google Docs.

What About My Interests?  – Create Space and Opportunity for Organic Connections to Happen

Many successful programs balance freedom and structure in creating space and opportunities for connections to develop into trusting relationships. The right physical, social, and emotional environment can help people develop relationships by creating a welcoming atmosphere, or providing spaces suitable for conversations. In-person meetings often benefit from tactics such as offering food for participants. In a virtual environment, the tactics should be more geared to interaction. Games, visual images, and a welcoming facilitator can be important to building and maintaining relationships with program participants that allow them to move from formal engagement to organic connections. Video-based platforms could be key tools in creating spaces for participants to engage remotely.

Who Came Before Me? – Include Qualified Individuals or Alumni in Programming and Staffing

The intentional hiring of former participants, or individuals with similar experiences, may add to your program’s credibility in the eyes of current participants. This can help them establish trusting relationships with staff who have a familiar background (bonding capital) and reduce the reluctance to use relationships with those who are different (bridging and linking capital) for their own personal growth. In effectively reaching out virtually to current participants, these alumni can quickly become role models because they can relate to participants and are concrete models of success.

Not all alumni will be qualified to work in a program, but when qualified, alumni may add significant value.  If you don’t have alumni involved right now, you might engage some as volunteers or interns if you are able to do phone or online training. Then, they gain valuable skills and training while you are determining whether they would be a good fit as a staff member. In a note of caution, however, directors and managers may want to balance the value of these individuals with other staff who may have more diverse experiences and expertise needed by the organization during the pandemic.

How Do We Hold Each Other Responsible? – Emphasize Accountability

Accountability is one key aspect of social capital relationships. Social capital grows more efficiently when people hold each other “to their word,” and you may be worried that you are losing that spirit of accountability while so many program participants are isolated. If you don’t have a formal accountability instrument, you may want to think about the potential benefits of agreements or commitments in which participants, peers, staff, and/or supporters are explicit about what is expected of each other during the pandemic, and there is a mechanism to check back in or show fulfillment of promises online.  If you already have an instrument in place, this is the time to remind participants of it. These instruments can help bring transparency, consistency, and predictability, and add longevity to the relationships with/among participants.

There are different ways to structure accountability agreements. One way is through accountability agreements among the entire group. Another is through informal agreements that hold two peers accountable to each other.

Individual social capital may also be built through accountability structures between people in a bridging social capital relationship.  One of the easiest examples to understand is the relationship between a mentor and mentee.  Mentorship relationships imply responsibility to communicate, connect, and respect alternative views.  There is an expectation that advice is sought and provided.

Join Our Free Webinar!

For more information about social capital measurement and outcomes, please join our free webinar on April 1, 2020, 1:00 – 2:00 pm Central/2:00 – 3:00 pm Eastern: Measuring How Social Relationships Contribute to the Outcomes of Program Participants.

This webinar will:

  • Provide an overview of social capital—or the value that arises from relationships—and describe why human services programs should try to measure and evaluate their success in helping participants build social capital;
  • Offer concrete examples of ways to measure social capital in human services programs, and key considerations in doing so;
  • Explore the value of logic models and approaches for documenting social capital inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes in a program logic model; and
  • Demonstrate how one program is tracking social capital to measure program outcomes, support programming, and build evidence of success.

The material for this blog series has been adapted from content based on: information gathered by engaging a panel of national experts for interviews and focus groups; conducting a national program scan of notable human services programs using social capital; visiting agencies in person, and writing in-depth case studies with selected programs, and augmented by research on virtual communities conducted by Anita Brown-Graham. The team responsible for that original content includes The Office of the Assistant Secretary to Planning and Evaluation at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, RTI International, and the ncIMPACT Initiative at the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill. All images are stock photos. This does not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Health and Human Services. Nothing in this blog series should be construed as endorsing any company or platform.

[1] Woolcock, M., & Narayan, D. (2000). Social Capital: Implications for Development Theory, Research, and Policy. The World Bank Research Observer 15(2) 225–249. https://doi.org/10.1093/wbro/15.2.225

[1] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/resources-and-training/tpp-and-paf-resources/cultural-competence/index.htm

[1] Mayer, J. D., Roberts, R. D., & Barsade, S. G. (2008). Human abilities: Emotional intelligence. Annual. Rev. Psychol.59, 507-536.

A Note to Human Service Programs: Three Practices for Building Social Capital During COVID-19

Co-Authors: Maureen Berner, UNC SOG; Phillip Graham, RTI; Justin Landwehr, RTI; Brooklyn Mills, ncIMPACT

 

In the first installment of this blog series, A Note to Human Service Programs: You Can Still Build Social Connections in a Time of Social Isolation, we shared the definition of social capital. In the second, A Note to Human Service Agencies: Think About What Type of Social Capital You Most Need to Build Online, we shared insights on different types of social capital and general principles that human service programs seeking to build social capital should consider.

As you read through the following social capital practices, remember there is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping participants build social capital in a human services program.  Every program has a different context and different values and goals. You, the program managers and directors, know best the population you are trying to serve. That said, here are some questions and practices that might help you.

Following are the first three practices. [NOTE: Blog Four in this series, A Note to Human Service Programs: Three Practices for Building Social Connections in a Time of Social Isolation, covers four more practices.]

How and Where Will We Connect? Use Peer Groups to Engage Participants

When peers work together, each person’s individual network becomes part of the joint network, ideally forming a peer-based safety net and resource web. In this time of stress and uncertainty, networks can be especially valuable, but you may not have time to build your own virtual platform. Moreover, virtual peer groups work better when using platforms that program participants already use. Facebook groups, WhatsApp, Next Door, and text message-based groups may be particularly helpful in leveraging the bonding social capital that exists among program participants. You can use “live events” on some of the platforms to replace in-person meetings that had to be canceled due to COVID-19 related restrictions on the size of gatherings. Whether “live” or not, expect in these challenging times that, in addition to your program content, participants will use the opportunity to seek needed information about resources from others. This may also be a time to see whether someone close to them is willing to barter some toilet paper in exchange for some other resource.

The long term social and economic effects of this pandemic will be significant. Now is the time to connect participants to the people and institutions that will be able to help them. Email, Twitter, and LinkedIn are useful tools for making connections to people who are needed for bridging and linking capital.

Some virtual groups include millions of people. However, virtual peer groups that are focused on building bonding capital for human services may often benefit from being small enough to allow participants to get to know each other meaningfully. A manageable size can provide opportunities to notice when someone is missing or just lurking rather than participating.  Also, virtual groups may in some cases do better when they have active facilitators who encourage participation and keep the group on task.  They generally require a strategy for capturing program participants’ attention, especially in a time such as this.

Before you launch a virtual peer group, ask yourself, “Do we have someone to get the group started? Have we determined when there will be live activities that require everyone to be online at the same time and when the activities will allow people to check in at their own convenience? If the group is closed (predetermined membership), have we decided when or whether to allow new members into the group?”

How Will This Make a Difference? – Help Participants Build Quality and Meaningful Relationships

Social capital involves building trusting connections, but trusting relationships take time and energy, whether they are in person, by phone or online. Some research suggests that trust may be hardest to build online, but it can be brokered. Your program may be well positioned to help participants know who they can trust online.

While there is no standard number of times a group might need to connect online, the interactions will generally benefit from being frequent enough for social bonds to develop. Interactions need to be meaningful to increase trust and connections. As such, this may be a good time to ask about challenges participants are facing. It can help to have participants who already have strong relationships with each other model this type of meaningful online dialogue for others.

For programs that seek to stay connected to alumni, this pandemic may provide an important opportunity to check in with them virtually or by phone.   

Is What’s Yours Mine? – Tapping into Social Capital in Organizations to Increase Participant Social Capital

Organizations have their own social capital, which may be embodied in their positive reputation in the community or referral networks. Building and accessing organizational social capital can improve a program’s ability to focus on participants’ individual-level social capital. This is a good time for you to explore how your organization can build connections that help individual participants be a part of networks to achieve their goals, such as partnering with the local workforce board, or a childcare agency.

In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, human services programs have the opportunity to get on the phone or online and tap into the networks of their stakeholders, including staff, volunteers, board members, congregations, and others to identify resources. By working remotely to reach out, you will be able to identify resources, open doors, and create connections for participants. This could be a good opportunity for some targeted matchmaking.

Join Our Free Webinar!

For more information about social capital measurement and outcomes, please join our free webinar on April 1, 2020, 1:00 – 2:00 pm Central/2:00 – 3:00 pm Eastern: Measuring How Social Relationships Contribute to the Outcomes of Program Participants.

This webinar will:

  • Provide an overview of social capital—or the value that arises from relationships—and describe why human services programs should try to measure and evaluate their success in helping participants build social capital;
  • Offer concrete examples of ways to measure social capital in human services programs, and key considerations in doing so;
  • Explore the value of logic models and approaches for documenting social capital inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes in a program logic model; and
  • Demonstrate how one program is tracking social capital to measure program outcomes, support programming, and build evidence of success.

The material for this blog series has been adapted from content based on: information gathered by engaging a panel of national experts for interviews and focus groups; conducting a national program scan of notable human services programs using social capital; visiting agencies in person, and writing in-depth case studies with selected programs, and augmented by research on virtual communities conducted by Anita Brown-Graham. The team responsible for that original content includes The Office of the Assistant Secretary to Planning and Evaluation at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, RTI International, and the ncIMPACT Initiative at the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill. All images are stock photos. This does not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Health and Human Services. Nothing in this blog series should be construed as endorsing any company or platform.

A Note to Human Service Agencies: Think About What Type of Social Capital You Most Need to Build Online

Co-Authors: Maureen Berner, UNC SOG; Phillip Graham, RTI; Justin Landwehr, RTI; Brooklyn Mills, ncIMPACT

 

In the first installment of this blog series, A Note to Human Service Programs: You Can Still Build Social Connections in a Time of Social Isolation, we noted that social connections can be critical to program outcomes for many human service program participants. Even in a time of physical isolation, those connections may need to be maintained, built and leveraged.

As human service agencies help program participants take social capital activities online, it is important to be clear about the purpose for the social capital – what program-related purpose does it seek to serve? Researchers and policymakers commonly discuss the following three types of social capital:[i]

Bonding social capital refers to the relationships built among individuals with characteristics, experiences, or group membership in common (“people like me”).  Do your program participants need to stay connected to those who are similarly situated to help each other to “get by?”

Bridging social capital refers to relationships built among individuals, communities, or groups with differing background characteristics or group membership (“people different from me”). Do your program participants need connections between social groups, social class, race, religion or other important sociodemographic or socioeconomic characteristics to help get ahead?

Linking social capital is an extension of bridging capital and it focuses on networks and organizations that provide connections across power dynamics, giving access to more resources (“individuals or institutions in positions of power”).  Do your program participants need relationships with people or institutions in positions of power?

Online platforms, such as Facebook, allow for the production and maintenance of both strong ties and weak ties and, by extension, can influence positively users’ life satisfaction, trust and public participation. Several research studies suggest that a person’s bridging and linking ties may increase more easily because the technology is suited to maintaining these links cheaply and without high barriers. Bonding ties, however, will likely be limited to maintaining or solidifying existing offline relationships as opposed to meeting new people who serve to help participants “get by” unless human service agencies are able to meet participants’ need for identifying with others and gaining a sense of belonging; finding a basis for conversation and social interaction; connecting with family, friends, and society; and gaining insight into the circumstances of others—all these reasons can foster norms of reciprocity and trust and result in bonding capital

Once you have determined what type of social capital you have been building for participants and why, you may be ready to implement the strategies identified in the next two installments of this blog series, A Note to Human Service Programs: Three Practices for Building Social Capital During COVID-19, and A Note to Human Service Programs: Three Practices for Building Social Connections in a Time of Social Isolation, to serve those clients who have access to the phone and virtual tools.

However, it is important to note that social capital works best when in a supportive environment.  If you want to implement these practices, we recommend you do so within the context of the following underlying principles.

People at the Center

Person-centered programs view participants as experts, inviting them to drive the goals and services, and use staff as facilitators and supporters instead of directors. When participants are listened to and their interests and experiences drive the process, they may be more likely to feel cared for and respected. Trusting, reciprocal relationships may be more likely to develop among them and with program staff and volunteers.

Relationships as Assets

Programs that are successful in helping their participants leverage social capital often think of social capital as a critical asset. It has value, as important as the organization’s building or bank account. As such, program leaders seek to build, nurture, leverage, and monitor social capital that results in high levels of trust.

Staff and Participants as Partners

Programs that view participants as partners offer their participants agency to help shape and scope the program in ways that work for the participants. One way of doing this is to work to minimize any sense of an uneven power dynamic so that participants feel empowered to set their own goals and take the lead in developing a plan to achieve them.

Cultural Competence

Programs that reflect cultural competence promote “positive and effective interactions with diverse cultures” through “a set of attitudes, perspectives, behaviors, and policies.”[ii] This is often very challenging work for human services agencies, as staff and volunteers often have very different lived experiences and represent different cultures than program participants.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence involves the capacity to effectively navigate emotions and use emotions to improve, rather than hinder, decision-making.[iii] It can lead to stronger bonds and trust (for example, by naming emotions or accurately recognizing others’ feelings) and may be a particularly important quality in the staff and volunteers of social capital-building programs by helping them navigate sensitive interactions.

Read the following blogs here, A Note to Human Service Programs: Three Practices for Building Social Capital During COVID-19, and A Note to Human Service Programs: Four More Practices for Building Social Capital During COVID-19, for particular practices you can implement during the COVID-19 pandemic with program participants who have internet access.

Join Our Free Webinar!

For more information about social capital measurement and outcomes, please join our free webinar on April 1, 2020, 1:00 – 2:00 pm Central/2:00 – 3:00 pm Eastern: Measuring How Social Relationships Contribute to the Outcomes of Program Participants.

This webinar will:

  • Provide an overview of social capital—or the value that arises from relationships—and describe why human services programs should try to measure and evaluate their success in helping participants build social capital;
  • Offer concrete examples of ways to measure social capital in human services programs, and key considerations in doing so;
  • Explore the value of logic models and approaches for documenting social capital inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes in a program logic model; and
  • Demonstrate how one program is tracking social capital to measure program outcomes, support programming, and build evidence of success.

The material for this blog series has been adapted from content based on: information gathered by engaging a panel of national experts for interviews and focus groups; conducting a national program scan of notable human services programs using social capital; visiting agencies in person, and writing in-depth case studies with selected programs, and augmented by research on virtual communities conducted by Anita Brown-Graham. The team responsible for that original content includes The Office of the Assistant Secretary to Planning and Evaluation at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, RTI International, and the ncIMPACT Initiative at the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill. All images are stock photos. This does not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Health and Human Services. Nothing in this blog series should be construed as endorsing any company or platform.

[i] Woolcock, M., & Narayan, D. (2000). Social Capital: Implications for Development Theory, Research, and Policy. The World Bank Research Observer 15(2) 225–249. https://doi.org/10.1093/wbro/15.2.225

[ii] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/resources-and-training/tpp-and-paf-resources/cultural-competence/index.htm

[iii] Mayer, J. D., Roberts, R. D., & Barsade, S. G. (2008). Human abilities: Emotional intelligence. Annual. Rev. Psychol.59, 507-536.

A Note to Human Service Programs: You Can Still Build Social Connections in a Time of Social Isolation

Co-Authors: Maureen Berner, UNC SOG; Phillip Graham, RTI; Justin Landwehr, RTI; Brooklyn Mills, ncIMPACT

 

Let’s face it. Most of us crave human connections. They make our lives better in so many ways.

During this period of the COVID -19 pandemic, then, when we are doing our best to practice social distancing, many of us feel socially isolated. We miss our normal in-person connections. Students miss experiencing the interactions of in-person instruction, employees miss the water cooler conversations with their colleagues, and families and friends miss the dinners out on the town, the meet ups at the gym, and the hugs.

There is a cost to social isolation, and many of us have spent our first weeks of social distancing fighting against loneliness by using virtual platforms, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Webex, Talky.io, Facebook groups, and Instagram as our means of being together. We are working hard to minimize our sense of loss by trading in our usual face-to-face connections for virtual ones. We are finding ways to continue building and leveraging our social capital online.

We are not alone. Alcoholics Anonymous recently announced that it is moving its regular peer group meetings online. This causes us to wonder how other human service programs are using platforms and telephones to help their clients continue to build and leverage the social connections that may be critical to program success. The question is, “how do agencies help others build and leverage social connections at a time when physical interactions are so restricted?”  

Social connections can be critical for many human service program participants. The value that is derived from these connections is sometimes called “social capital,” and is an important resource in life – creating moments of positivity, supporting us through good times and bad, and exposing us to new ideas and people. When you cultivate healthy connections, research suggests you will enjoy a longer, happier, and more prosperous life as a result of the social capital created. This social capital can be accessed or mobilized to help you succeed in life by producing resources like information and emotional or financial support.

Remember the old adage, “it’s not just what you know, but who you know?” Well, there is research to prove this is true. The research on social capital suggests the key to building it is helping people to develop an increased sense of trust as they connect with other people, making it easier for them to work together. The more we connect with other people, then, the more we trust them and, the more we trust, the more we are able to effectively work together to reach shared goals. It turns out that this is true across different countries and across different states in the United States, as well as across individuals of intersecting group memberships. It is true irrespective of differences in education, age, income, race, and gender. People who are connected are people who trust. Even without the facial expressions, verbal cues, and nonverbal cues afforded in face-to-face connections, people can build trust through telephone and online interactions.

There is significant research on online activity, phone calls, and the creation of social capital. While some have argued that online actors have traded that medium for fewer face-to-face interactions and lower social capital, subsequent research has found that online and telephonic communications may actually have a positive effect on individuals’ social trust. The general assumption today is that patterns of online use is positively associated with individual-level production of social capital. This is an opportunity for human service agencies during the social distancing phase of COVID-19.

More Blogs in This Series

In the second installment in this series, A Note to Human Service Agencies: Think About What Type of Social Capital You Most Need to Build Online, we shared insights on different types of social capital and general principles that human service programs seeking to build social capital should consider.

In the third installment, A Note to Human Service Programs: Three Practices for Building Social Capital During COVID-19, we focused on three questions and corresponding practices:

  1. How and Where Will We Connect? – Use Peer Groups with a Facilitator to Engage Participants;
  2. How Will This Make a Difference? – Help Participants Build Quality and Meaningful Relationships
  3. Is What’s Yours Mine? – Tapping into Social Capital in Organizations to Increase Participant Social Capital

Finally, the fourth installment, A Note to Human Service Programs: Three Practices for Building Social Connections in a Time of Social Isolation, offers additional practical tools and frameworks for consideration.

Join Our Free Webinar!

For more information about social capital measurement and outcomes, please join our free webinar on April 1, 2020, 1:00 – 2:00 pm Central/2:00 – 3:00 pm Eastern: Measuring How Social Relationships Contribute to the Outcomes of Program Participants.

This webinar will:

  • Provide an overview of social capital—or the value that arises from relationships—and describe why human services programs should try to measure and evaluate their success in helping participants build social capital;
  • Offer concrete examples of ways to measure social capital in human services programs, and key considerations in doing so;
  • Explore the value of logic models and approaches for documenting social capital inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes in a program logic model; and
  • Demonstrate how one program is tracking social capital to measure program outcomes, support programming, and build evidence of success.

 

The material for this blog series has been adapted from content based on: information gathered by engaging a panel of national experts for interviews and focus groups; conducting a national program scan of notable human services programs using social capital; visiting agencies in person, and writing in-depth case studies with selected programs, and augmented by research on virtual communities conducted by Anita Brown-Graham. The team responsible for that original content includes The Office of the Assistant Secretary to Planning and Evaluation at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, RTI International, and the ncIMPACT Initiative at the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill. All images are stock photos. This does not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Health and Human Services. Nothing in this blog series should be construed as endorsing any company or platform.

 

Sticky Floors Impede Economic Mobility in North Carolina

The ncIMPACT Initiative recently completed a project examining poverty in Forsyth County for the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. Our focus quickly narrowed to the related issue of economic mobility – the ability of low-income Forsyth residents to significantly change their income or wealth over their lifetimes or the generations that follow. Of course, such examinations of economic mobility are inextricably tied to measures of an economy’s inclusiveness.

At the differing levels of city, county and country, global voices are increasingly raising important questions about the adequacy of old economic productivity measures to tell us what we need to know about the inclusiveness of economies. Think tanks and other advocates increasingly point out that commonly used measures, such as Gross Domestic Product, for instance, fail to consider the inequalities that lie beneath usual measures of well-being.

We found those critiques useful as we did our work in Forsyth County. The economy is transitioning from its historical reliance on tobacco and textiles, and the county is creating an impressive number of new economy jobs. However, a significant percentage of the local labor force does not have the skills required for this new economy. ncIMPACT’s research revealed that, for too many Forsyth County residents, the barriers to jobs that pay a living wage seem insurmountable. In essence, the local economy is not inclusive.

One of the ways in which economic mobility typically occurs is through advancing one’s educational status. Although our study found a clear desire for more education and training opportunities, barriers remain. Participants express the needs that must be met for this to happen. The most common need, expressed by respondents at a rate of 60%, is affordable education supports (e.g. transportation, childcare). Developing skills for available jobs often requires formal training and education. Providing additional resources to those who need additional support for advancement is one way an economy can become more inclusive.

ncIMPACT is not the first group to notice that Forsyth County’s economic inclusion measures lag behind its economic growth and prosperity numbers. In 2017, the Brookings Institution evaluated the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas along three dimensions: growth, prosperity, and inclusion. Based on the indicators used and composite scores generated, the Winston-Salem metropolitan area ranked 79th for growth, 73rd for prosperity, and 85th for inclusion.

The authors of the Brookings report explain, “Inclusion indicators measure how the benefits of growth and prosperity in a metropolitan economy—specifically, changes in employment and income—are distributed among individuals. Inclusive growth enables more people to invest in their skills and to purchase more goods and services.”  Similarly, the Rockefeller Foundation recently defined an inclusive economy as one that provides expanded opportunities for a more broadly shared prosperity, especially for those facing the greatest barriers to advancing their well-being. Simply stated, an inclusive economy offers more opportunities for more people based on five interrelated characteristics:

  1. People are able to participate fully in economic life and have a meaningful say over their community’s future.
  2. True opportunities are available to enable upward mobility for all groups of people.
  3. The local economy produces enough goods and services to enable broad gains in well-being and opportunity.
  4. Individuals, communities, businesses, and governments have a sufficient degree of confidence in their future and an increased ability to predict the outcome of their economic decisions.
  5. Economic and social wealth is sustained over time, thus maintaining intergenerational well-being.

For more information on inclusive economies or ncIMPACT’s findings in Forsyth County, see

http://ncimpactsog.web.unc.edu/2019/05/the-forsyth-story-a-strategy-for-providing-a-more-inclusive-economy/

 

Women in Construction

When more residents thrive, communities thrive.

Talent is essential for growth and competitiveness. When the potential of women is not fully harnessed, companies and communities lose out on skills, ideas, and perspectives that are critical for addressing challenges and maximizing new opportunities.

This reality is proving especially true in the construction sector for the greater Triangle industry, and communities are responding in innovative ways.

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Education and Skills for Tomorrow: Is Your Workforce “Future Ready”?

Earlier this month my colleague, Dave Brown, published a blog hinting that we, at ncIMPACT, are working on a Future Ready Communities Dashboard. Our current series of blog posts focuses on “What it means to be a Future Ready Community.”

Future Ready Communities will be successful because of their vibrancy, their interconnectedness, and their fluid structures for causing positive human collisions. They will be built on and for great ideas. These communities will lead based on their brain trust, and they will in turn become a magnet, attracting other good minds. The relational effect is clear: Good minds make a community great, and great communities attract good minds.

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Our Future Workforce: The Rise of the Individual

This is the fourth and final in a blog series on drivers of change for Our Future Workforce. The other three posts focus on demographics, automation, and business model changes. Our next series will use case studies to offer insights into local and regional efforts in North Carolina seeking to respond to these drivers. Please offer suggestions for case studies here

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Our Future Workforce: The Rise of New Business Models

This is the third in a blog series on the drivers of rapid and profound changes in who will work and where, when, and how work will be done in the coming years. The first in the series focuses on demographic drivers and the second on automation.

Dramatic industry model changes are forcing companies to reactively reposition their business models or face failure. Take the following example: Black Friday is dead. This was the early, and erroneous, call by bored local news beat reporters as they stood in empty parking spaces outside stores or pointed to people leaving malls with no purchases in hand the day after Thanksgiving. For some retailers, the news coverage may foretell a death sentence, but not for all. Retailers that continue to thrive will do so because they are agile enough to respond to the reality that the reporters missed the point. Black Friday is not dead. Black Friday has moved!

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Our Future Workforce: Driven by Technological Disruptions

This is the second in a blog series on drivers of rapid and profound changes in who will work and where, when, and how work will be done in the coming years. The first post on Our Future Workforce can be found here.

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