Since being founded in 2010, New Growth has performed evaluations and data analyses for various organizations such as K-12 school districts, post-secondary educational institutions, and non-profits. While the definition of impact differs from project to project, many education or workforce-related evaluations include the tracking of education or employment-related information such as: enrollments, graduation rates, job placements, and job retention. In most cases, the best way to obtain data and track outcomes is to connect directly with administrative data sources that have standardized ways of collecting information.
As 2017 comes to a close, we reflected on some of the biggest lessons we learned this year. Observing the cardinal rule of knowledge-sharing “what is learned here leaves here”; below are some of the insights we gained:
Last month we blogged about the work that New Growth did for Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (Skills). Skills is a public-private partnership working to find jobs for unemployed and underemployed job seekers in the Chicago area. They have adopted a “demand driven” approach – working with businesses to determine their hiring needs and then finding qualified individuals to fill those jobs. Skills wanted to measure how well their model was working in the real world, so they hired New Growth to evaluate the project.
New Growth just wrapped up work on an evaluation project for Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (Skills). Skills is a public-private partnership working to find jobs for unemployed and underemployed job seekers in the Chicago area. They have adopted a “demand driven” approach – working with businesses to determine their hiring needs and then finding qualified individuals to fill those jobs. Skills wanted to measure how well their model was working in the real world, so they hired New Growth to do an evaluation of the project.
Structural barriers have kept unemployment stubbornly high for young adults in Cleveland, and a vast gulf separates white youth from youth of color in success finding a job. A report released last month by Policy Matters Ohio, in collaboration with Generation Work, found that young Clevelanders across the board face unemployment rates five points higher than the median worker, despite being more likely to search for work. Among young people of color, nearly one in three is unemployed.
The Great Recession was devastating for many, but as the recovery continues, teens and young adults are struggling to keep up. A new report from Policy Matters Ohio found in Cleveland, those in the 18-29 age range had an unemployment rate of 13.8% in 2013-2015, five points higher than the total population (8.8%). While most in this age group have increased educational attainment, many are employed in low-wage jobs that lack career ladders. The most common jobs for young adults have a median salary of $22, 176 which is lower than the average of all workers, $32,596 and much lower than the median of older workers, $39, 739. These gaps are glaring when the data is disaggregated, with stark disparities for young people of color across employment, education and wage rates. These issues have not gone unnoticed, and leaders in Cleveland are organizing to create a solution.
Each year more than 2,500 young adults ( ages 14-24) throughout Cuyahoga County participate in Youth Opportunities Unlimited Summer Employment and Internship programs. The program helps participants develop both technical and soft skills through on-the-job experience and guidance from a mentor. This summer New Growth Group was excited to host an intern, Sean. Sean spent most of his summer with us and helped analyze data and informed our social media and communications strategies. We asked him to reflect on his experience.
New Growth Group released Place Matters, the introductory white paper of the series “A Skills-Driven Approach to Regional Economic Development”. Place Matters digs into data from Metropolitan Statistical Areas, revealing the differences between regions with highest and lowest concentrations of skilled workers. The paper makes the case for a skills-based approach to regional economic development.
Innovation isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think of grant writing, but at New Growth Group we see grants as an opportunity for organizations to bring innovative practices and strategies to life. We’ve worked closely with partners to secure funding for new approaches to workforce challenges such as supporting re-entry populations and building interstate partnerships to develop a regional sector strategy. One of the most innovative programs we have written a grant for is the Commercial Truck Driving Technology program at Hinds Community College in Jackson, MS, as part of a TAACCCT grant for the Mississippi River Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Consortium (MRTDL).
If our work across the country has taught us anything, it is that a region’s people are its number one asset; the skills and abilities of a region’s population are the currency that propels growth. The readiness of an area’s workforce to take on new challenges and drive the economy forward is often measured by their percentage of college degree attainment and indeed countless analyses tell a story of separation between more-educated workers and places and those that are less-educated. (more…)
Evaluation is one of New Growth’s core services. We’ve worked with nearly 100 clients in 18 states over the last seven years, ranging from K-12 districts to chambers of commerce to philanthropies. Recently, the team sat down to reflect on our experiences and the following lessons emerged from the conversation.
Principal, Chris Spence, reflects on why he founded New Growth Group
New Growth has had a great few years marked by a growing staff, expanding client roster, and fascinating portfolio of projects that embody our vision: Communities thrive when businesses have a strong workforce and people have opportunities to advance in careers. Recently, I’ve had an opportunity to pause and reflect on how this organization can best promote more of this work, and it’s increasingly clear that we need to help communicate the essential importance of investing in American workers, especially in America’s heartland. This blog, along with other materials produced by New Growth, is about American workers, changing communities, and new approaches needed to see communities thrive. (more…)
New Growth recently added two new team members with varied expertise to further our mission. We welcomed Kaci Roach, Project Manager and Robin King, Grant Services Manager. Visit Our Team page for team member bios.
New Growth authored a winning application to the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s i6 Challenge. The Northeast Ohio Regional Acceleration in Digital Innovation initiative (NEO ReADI) was awarded $500,000 and will provide proof-of-concept & commercialization services to start-ups in a Core Digital Technology cluster. Click here for an overview of the project.
New Growth’s evaluation of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future workforce program was highlighted in the Chicago Tribune. Read the article here.