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June 4, 2015

Dear <<Prefix>> <<Last Name>>,

We write to you today as a major employer in the East Bay, a strong partner of the East Bay community, and a cornerstone of its economic vitality.

We invite you to join us and others, including the California Endowment, Healthy Richmond, the Making Waves Academy, the Sustainable Business Alliance, the Unity Council, and UC Berkeley to partner on achieving three goals: strengthening the Bay Area’s economic vitality, expanding the pipeline of workers that meet your hiring and promotional standards, and increasing economic security for young men of color in the Bay Area.

Across the country, health care organizations and other businesses are playing a leading role in strategies to achieve goals for inclusion and diversity in employment. For instance, eleven inner city medical and higher education institutions in one state have made numerical commitments to increase employment from nearby zip codes and thereby reduce the racial employment gap in them, achieve organization-wide racial diversity goals across all job categories, and sponsor strategies to achieve their commitments.

The Bay Area is home to another innovative strategy. The Alameda County Health Care Services Agency established the contractual requirement that emergency medical service providers employ young men of color and spearheaded EMS Corps to train them as qualified emergency medical technicians. According to Dale Feldhauser, the chief operating officer of Paramedics Plus/California, a major Alameda County emergency medical services provider, EMS Corps graduates the company employs are doing well. A founding premise of EMS Corps is to create a strong pool of professionals who reflect the neighborhoods they serve. By training participants to do meaningful and decently paid work, the Corps strives to transform the young men themselves and influence their peers. The effort’s success has generated well-deserved coverage by PBS News Hour, the New York Times on-line, the East Bay Express, and other media.

Targeting these strategies to young adults provides particular business benefits. According to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, as the United States continues to experience a shift in demographics, recruiting and retaining younger personnel makes good business sense. The organization says business investments in young adult workers pay off by addressing four critical business problems: they create a robust pipeline of their company’s next generation of talent, fill critical skills gaps, increase workforce diversity that enables greater customer connection, and spur innovation.

The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s business case is especially important in the Bay Area. While the economy is robust, strategies that overcome barriers to employment for young men of color would significantly increase its vitality by maximizing their full talents and potential. We have a long way to go. Young men of color face major disparities in unemployment rates, earnings, and occupational concentration.
 
The Insight Center and others we work with have taken up this call, and we know leaders like you are crucial to success.

Leaders of healthcare organizations and other businesses are crucial because keys to successful solutions include a full understanding of your employment needs, hiring and promotional standards, and human resource systems; your participation in co-creating solutions; and your involvement as a champion for adopting those solutions. As we move forward, a group of workforce development entities that are expert in generating a pipeline of able workers will provide an important asset. Even now, they have vetted and trained young men of color who may meet your needs, and they want to do more and do better.

We appreciate your consideration of this important issue and look forward to discussing a mutually beneficial approach. To schedule a conversation, or for more information, please contact Jim Torrens, the Insight Center’s Associate Director of Workforce Innovation and the National Network of Sector Partners, (jtorrens@insightcced.org; 510-251-2600). Of course, we will also follow up. Click here to download a PDF of this letter.
 
Sincerely,
Henry A. J. Ramos, CEO Libby Schaaf, Mayor Tom Butt, Mayor
Insight Center for Community City of Oakland City of Richmond
Economic Development    
Copyright © 2015 Insight Center for Community Economic Development, All rights reserved.


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