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Bridges to Work: Access to Jobs


Posted Date: March 31, 2005

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Bridges to Work: Access to Jobs

The economic gap between the Nation's inner cities and suburbs has widened significantly during the last decade. Unemployment and poverty have increased in many inner cities while many suburbs have prospered. Through unique local employment, transportation, and empowerment partnerships, Bridges to Work (BtW) will help to close that gap. BtW is a new empowerment research demonstration program that will operate for 4 years in Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. BtW is administered jointly by Public/Private Ventures (P/PV), a Philadelphia-based nonprofit research and program development organization, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The initiative, which connects inner-city residents with suburban employment opportunities, brings local partners together to provide job placement, transportation, and support services to assist lower income, inner-city residents in becoming self-sufficient and working toward strengthening regional economies.

Program Benefits: BtW was designed to be a "win-win" initiative, in which both inner-city job seekers and suburban employers gain benefits. BtW participants will receive coordinated and enhanced job placement and retention services, transportation assistance, and necessary supportive services (such as child care and counseling) to attain and retain productive suburban jobs. Higher wages will help these inner-city residents work toward self-sufficiency. Employers who are in need of workers due to suburban labor shortages will gain access to a work-ready labor force.

Program Sites: With financial support from HUD, the Department of Transportation Federal Transit Authority, and various foundations, P/PV assisted 10 cities in developing plans to participate in the BtW program. Five of these sites -- Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, and St. Louis -- were selected to operate BtW programs for 4 years.

Program Partnerships: A key component of BtW is the formation of regional collaboratives to provide job linkage services. These local partnerships include representatives of neighborhood groups, employer organizations, nonprofit service providers, regional transportation providers, metropolitan planning organizations, and local and State governments.

Program Funding: Total funding for BtW is $17 million over 4 years. This includes $11 million for program operations -- $8 million from HUD and $3 million in local contributions from the participating communities. Program monitoring, research, and evaluation will cost approximately $6 million and will be provided by HUD and the Ford, Rockefeller, and MacArthur Foundations. P/PV will conduct research and evaluate the program. They plan to evaluate the impact of the BtW program on income and employment and the effectiveness of the BtW job placement services.

For More Information: Contact Beth Palubinsky, Public/Private Ventures, (215) 557-4400.

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