February 26, 2024

Three Spheres of Equity in Workforce Development Programs

An Early Analysis of Equity Within Good Jobs Challenge Programs

Funded by the American Rescue Plan, the Good Jobs Challenge (GJC) invested $500 million across 31 states and Puerto Rico in industry-led workforce training partnerships. Through this once-in-a-generation investment, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) enters new terrain in workforce development and is placing a heightened focus on addressing disparities and uplifting underserved communities by creating pipelines to good jobs.

Recently, EDA partnered with the University of Michigan Economic Growth Institute and the New Growth Innovation Network (NGIN) to document and elevate the efforts GJC grantees are taking to advance equity and ensure strong outcomes for all communities. Their first report, “Three Spheres of Equity in Workforce Development Programs: An Early Analysis of Equity Within Good Jobs Challenge Programs” (PDF), is an important and insightful look into equity across programming in the Good Jobs Challenge. Equity is a leading investment priority for EDA, and this new report contributes to the bureau’s effort to meet that commitment.

This research introduces a multifaceted framework to understand how GJC programs are integrating equity in three spheres:

  • Equity in local contextualization
  • Equity within the leading organizations
  • Equity in their program delivery

The report expands on the findings in each sphere and provides actionable recommendations for leaders. These early findings indicate that the Good Jobs Challenge not only has elevated the importance of equity considerations but also spotlighted a model that tailors interventions to specific community assets, challenges, and needs.

EDA has set a high bar for equity practices in the implementation of the Good Jobs Challenge and is pleased to see grantees rising to meet that bar. Early data from grantees demonstrates that GJC is reaching racial minorities in industries where they have been historically underrepresented.

The University of Michigan and NGIN teams will continue to evaluate implementation efforts in pursuit of this important objective in future reports not only for the Good Jobs Challenge but also for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge.