Community Canvassing Program Connects Atlantans With Workforce Training
An innovative door-to-door community canvassing pilot in Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Unit V (NPU‑V) is harnessing the power of face-to-face contact to connect residents with employment opportunities. Led by Emmaus House and Curry Davis Consulting Group, the initiative — funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation — already has connected 66 community members with workforce-training programs to help increase their income and achieve economic stability.
The NPU‑V neighborhoods include Adair Park, Capitol Gateway, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh and Summerhill. In Peoplestown alone, 33% of residents do not have a high school diploma, and 25% are unemployed. To combat these disparities and historic disinvestment, NPU‑V residents actively are leading community-driven efforts to halt displacement and promote quality education.
“The residents of Peoplestown and other NPU‑V neighborhoods are facing the understanding that if they don’t want to be displaced, they need living-wage jobs,” says Greg Cole, executive director of Emmaus House. “Becoming aware of these training opportunities can make all the difference.”
Emmaus House oversees all the financial, operational and managerial aspects of the canvassing program, including hiring resident canvassers, making training and employment referrals and providing supportive services — such as rent and child-care assistance — to help individuals overcome barriers that may prevent them from enrolling.
Canvassers promote an array of proven training programs, including Construction Ready, Generation’s hospitality program and Per Scholas’s IT trainings. At Per Scholas, for example, the average participant’s pre-training program income of $9,000 rises to $36,000 post-training — a 400% increase which is also notably above the poverty level for a family of four.
Now six months into the pilot, the community canvassing effort has received nearly 180 contact cards for residents and contacted 72% of them. In some cases, residents reached out before the program even had a chance to contact them.
“The most powerful part of the community canvassing program is the authenticity of the process,” says Karen Davis, president of the Curry Davis Consulting Group. “Canvassers receive first-person accounts from people educated on the training offerings, and, in some cases, who have even completed training programs themselves. Employing canvassers that live within these communities has been integral to our success in getting residents connected to programs.”