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Insight February/March 2014 News 
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"Re-Invigorating America's Greatness Through National Employment Policy"

There can be no doubt that, in our current situation, any and all voluntary employer efforts to test and scale promising strategies to engage hard-to-place workers are good...

Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Advances


Our work in this important area has received a welcome boost from our long-standing partners at Ford Foundation, who have recently requested a $250,000 project renewal grant proposal for continuing efforts in this vitally important area of our program portfolio. The Foundation’s generous offer to consider another round of support for this continuing focal point of our work could not be better timed given the ongoing vagaries of the national economy and the continuing disparate economic challenges facing families and communities of color flowing from the 2008 Great Recession.

Henry A.J. Ramos Testifies Before CA Assembly Budget Committee


Last week Henry A.J. Ramos offered a historical perspective of poverty guidelines to the CA Budget Committee. He discussed the use of the poverty guidelines in 1963, which by and large remained untouched, and the need for the state to reexamine this antiquated system. 

Watch his full testimony HERE.

New Report: 
Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Report


With lead authorship by Insight business research consultant Tim Lohrentz and support from senior program consultant Aimee Chitayat, the Insight Center has just released a new report on Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE). The report assesses MWBE policy and practice in forty leading cities and counties across America. This timely review of the field, which we post here in its initial release, is anticipated to inform a series of allied public discussions on the state of play in this economic space. Follow on discussions on the issues are being planned in the form of a forthcoming webinar series, as well as a possible conference of MWBE professionals from across the nation in partnership with the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity.
 

Insight Advances Important New Dialog and Promising Projects


It has been a robust and fast-paced first quarter for the Insight Center during the early months of 2014. 

Just this week, we've released all new statewide, county-specific Self Sufficiency Standard data that reveals the struggles of a staggering 1/3 of all California residents who can't cover basic living expenses with full-time work under the current minimum wage requirements. Read the full release HERE.

The following are brief updates on several important recent developments, about which we are especially excited.
 

Inaugural National Advisory Board Meeting


On January 24-25, in Oakland, the Insight Board of Directors supported its inaugural exchange with an impressive new national advisory board it has assembled to assist in developing the organization’s next stage agenda and strategies. The national advisory board, chaired by former Clinton Administration Housing Secretary Henry G. Cisneros, includes leading executives from the worlds of policy, business, philanthropy, and media. 

We are very excited about the many new opportunities provided through this budding partnership and look forward to reporting more developments stemming from it in the months to come. 
 

Potential Workforce Innovations


During recent weeks, we have significantly advanced our prospects to pursue exciting new workforce development projects in partnership with funders in California, Greater Chicago, and the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, respectively. This work will enable us to advance employment equity and opportunities for younger, low-income workers of color in targeted regions and industry growth sectors. 

In this connection, The California Endowment (TCE) has invited a major proposal from Insight to pilot an exciting statewide project to align young men and boys of color with training and employment placement opportunities in health sector jobs located in select sites where TCE is advancing an innovative long term place-based investment strategy.

In Chicago and Seattle, respectively, clusters of funders and leading workforce executives are discussing possible ways for Insight to facilitate voluntary employer engagements to promote employment equity in key sectors of those regions’ economies as well, including the transportation/logistics, advanced manufacturing, and construction sectors.

Finally, building on the Center’s recent work across the American south, we are very close to securing a major federal grant sub-contract to partner with eight regional community college districts serving the Mississippi River Delta corridor. The partnership will enable Insight to provide training and technical assistance to participating college district lead personnel that will help to position this important effort to improve local workforce training quality and outcomes across a significant region of the nation.  
 

Latest Insight-UCLA Work on California Senior Self-Sufficiency Issues  


Last but not least, the Insight Center, in partnership with UCLA scholars, released the most recent elder index report on the economic self-sufficiency challenges facing California seniors. Our most recent report reveals a growing incidence of child and grandchild economic dependency on California seniors owing to continuing economic stresses across the state. The data reveal the real county-specific costs faced by California seniors when their adult children are unable to make ends meet without relying on their parents for basic needs, including housing. Most of the affected parents and grandparents are lower income Californians, who are not receiving compensating state support relative to the growing burdens imposed by this phenomenon. 

Overall, it is a most exciting time for the Insight Center. We remain grateful to you for your continuing interest in our work, and your support and partnership generally. Without friends and colleagues like you by our side, our forward progress is impossible. With you there, however, there is nothing beyond our grasp!

With Enduring Gratitude,
Henry A. J. Ramos 
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