The Center for Working Families: Multiple Pathways to Opportunity and Careers
To improve the financial stability of families in Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Unit V neighborhoods, the Atlanta Civic Site began to implement in 2003 a strategy that bundled together employment, workforce development and asset-building programs in a family-friendly way. The civic site began with two six-month prototypes to test its assumptions related to service delivery and demand. Using what it learned from those prototypes, the civic site launched the Center for Working Families Inc. in fall 2005.
The center, a private nonprofit based at the Dunbar Neighborhood Center in Atlanta’s Mechanicsville neighborhood, provides a combination of economic stimulus, employment, job development, work supports and asset-building programs to move NPU‑V families along a pathway toward financial stability. The center partners with Educare Atlanta to ensure parents get on a path to jobs and careers at the same time their children are getting prepared for school.
The Center for Working Families Inc. serves as a hub, combining its services with those of other partner organizations to respond to participants’ needs and help reduce and eliminate pervasive barriers to steady employment such as unstable housing, lack of child care, legal issues and poor health services. For example, upon discovering that the lack of safe, stable and affordable child care prevented some participants from working, the center partnered with the Georgia Department of Health Services and Sheltering Arms to offer subsidized, high-quality child care to parents as they prepare for and begin to work.
Using a unique, customized-coaching approach, the center has developed three distinct pathways to help adults achieve financial stability and build careers: Moving to Work, Moving to Wealth and Moving to Entrepreneurship.
Moving to Work
The Moving to Work pathway provides unemployed and underemployed residents with the skills and supports they need to prepare for, secure and retain jobs that offer family-supporting wages and benefits.
Moving to Wealth
The Moving to Wealth pathway helps working families make ends meet by providing income-enhancing and asset-building services to avhieve financial stability, build assets and move toward homeownership.
Moving to Entrepreneurship
The Moving to Entrepreneurship pathway helps residents launch their own businesses, providing more job opportunities and increased access to goods and services in the neighborhoods. This is an important resource for those facing barriers to employment.
In addition to helping people find work, the center helps families successfully work and contribute to their larger community. As a part of its two-generation approach, the center has offered Fatherhood and Sisterhood programs to provide parents with the intensive mentoring, coaching and peer support they need to build strong, successful relationships with their children and community. The Fatherhood Program helped men address the barriers that prevent them from being involved in their children’s lives, connecting fathers to legal and mental health services, job training and other supports; the Sisterhood Program helped women build confidence and develop stronger and more positive perceptions of themselves and relationships with friends, neighbors and relatives.