ELYRIA — Elyria will launch a workforce development program, Elyria Works Now, next month despite not receiving grant funding in the highly competitive Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge Initiative.
With more than 500 entries in this year’s competition, Elyria had to go against hundreds of municipalities for up to $5 million in grant funding. The idea was to find the most pressing need in a community and develop a community approach toward a solution.
In Elyria, the immediate need is jobs, Brinda said.
She said Wednesday that Elyria’s loss in the competition is not a negative outcome because the application process brought so many together behind the shared goal of reducing poverty by increasing employment. A foundation facilitator visited Elyria during the application process to guide city leaders through designing a plan of action. Those involved included representatives from Invest Elyria, Elyria Arts Council, Elyria Schools, Lorain County Joint Vocational School, Lorain County Community College, Ohio Business College, Lorain County Chamber of Commerce, Elyria Public Library, Elyria Foundry, United Initiators, Lorain County Urban League, Elyria NAACP, St. Mary Parish/Elyria Ministerial Association and Express Employment Professionals.
“We do know that cities often apply two or three times before they are successful and selected for a grant,” she said. “We view this as an opportunity to get Elyria on their radar screen and learn a little bit about the process for applying. But we created a new collaborative approach to addressing workforce issues in our city, and I think we developed a fine-tuned program we believe will make a difference for the Elyria community.”
Brinda said no Ohio cities were selected in the competition, with the closest winners in Detroit and Pittsburgh.
According to Crain’s Detroit Business, Detroit is launching a new career mentorship program at five of its high schools after winning $100,000 and earning a spot as one of 35 “champion cities” competing for up to $5 million in grants. The city is using the grant money to place a total of five career specialists in select high schools who will work with students to place them in employer-sponsored co-ops and internships.
Issue 6 economic development funds will support Elyria’s pilot rollout of Elyria Works Now. Elyria Foundry and United Initiators will lead the program as employers who vow to consider for employment successful Elyria Works Now job seekers. Manufacturing will be the first industry under this program.
Here is a look at the proposed budget for the Elyria Works Now pilot year, which includes many contract positions or job duties the city will fill through an RFP (request for proposals) process.
- Program manager: $25,000
- Four success coaches/case managers: $20,000
- Curriculum design consultant: $10,000
- Website and application design and maintenance: $30,000
- Evaluation consultant to evaluate pilot project: $5,000
- Marketing consultant to design multimedia recruitment campaign: $10,000
- Advertising placement for multimedia recruitment campaign: $50,000
- Career site kiosks with posters, flyers and pamphlets: $10,000
- Career site and home travel expenses: $3,500
- Training workshop expenses: $2,500
- Printing supplies: $1,000
- Manuals and training guides: $2,000
“We are going to do everything we can to help people be successful and not fail,” she said. “…We know these people are now unemployed for a number of reasons. We want to provide access to jobs, but also provide access to support and wraparound services to help them be successful.”
The plan includes developing a collaborative network that will strengthen job connections between employers and job candidates, education and training when needed and support so job seekers can access higher-paying jobs. Employers involved in the pilot will commit to employment goals, family-friendly hiring practices and employee screenings that are open and inclusive.
If Elyria Works Now is a success, Brinda said the result could be the reduction of Elyria’s 22.2 percent poverty rate by as much as 5 percent and further closing the employment gap between companies facing labor shortages and residents who are underemployed or actively seeing work.
“It’s a very ambitious plan, and I am sure we will learn a lot in the first year,” Brinda said. “But this is really the first time we have taken a holistic community approach to trying to solve this problem and aiming to put people back to work.”