Using Storytelling to Help More Baltimoreans Get Jobs

Posted September 20, 2021, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

An aerial shot of downtown Baltimore City

The Mayor’s Office of Employ­ment Devel­op­ment (MOED) has launched a new sto­ry­telling cam­paign, Work.Better.Together, to help all Bal­ti­more City res­i­dents secure mean­ing­ful work and ful­ly con­tribute to, and ben­e­fit from, the local economy.

Fund­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, the ini­tia­tive draws from the diverse per­spec­tives of employ­ers, job seek­ers, train­ing providers, city offi­cials and oth­er local lead­ers to inspire greater col­lab­o­ra­tion and, ulti­mate­ly, cre­ate a more coor­di­nat­ed, inno­v­a­tive and equi­table work­force system.

Hear their stories

Con­cen­trat­ed pover­ty, per­sis­tent racial seg­re­ga­tion and dis­crim­i­na­to­ry hir­ing, hous­ing and edu­ca­tion prac­tices have all con­tributed to high­er unem­ploy­ment rates in Bal­ti­more City com­pared to the rest of Mary­land — espe­cial­ly among Black res­i­dents, who are near­ly four times more like­ly to be unem­ployed than their white counterparts.

The Work.Better.Together cam­paign is the lat­est in a series of efforts that MOED and its part­ners have been dri­ving to reverse these trends and help city res­i­dents access the skill-build­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and sup­port need­ed to secure well-pay­ing jobs.

Fol­low­ing the death of Fred­die Gray in 2015, MOED launched the suc­cess­ful One Bal­ti­more for Jobs to con­nect young Black males in Bal­ti­more with high-qual­i­ty jobs in grow­ing indus­tries. MOED also leads the Prac­tice Advi­so­ry, a group of pub­lic and pri­vate enti­ties — includ­ing Civic Works, the Depart­ment of Social Ser­vices, the Job Oppor­tu­ni­ties Task Force, Jane Addams Resource Cor­po­ra­tion Bal­ti­more, Asso­ci­at­ed Black Char­i­ties and Bön Sec­ours Com­mu­ni­ty Works — that reg­u­lar­ly meets to share lessons and col­lec­tive­ly push for bet­ter employ­ment and wage out­comes in Baltimore. 

These efforts have shown that when we all come togeth­er — busi­ness­es, gov­ern­ment offi­cials, com­mu­ni­ty col­leges, non­prof­its — we can build a bet­ter work­force sys­tem,” says Jason Perkins-Cohen, direc­tor of MOED. Through col­lab­o­ra­tion, we’re see­ing stronger, more equi­table out­comes for our residents.”

Get­ting Involved

Beyond watch­ing and shar­ing the sto­ries, there are many ways to take part in the Work.Better.Together cam­paign and help ensure all Bal­ti­more­ans have mean­ing­ful work and a hope­ful future.

  • For employ­ers: Reach out to Yvette Clark, assis­tant direc­tor and chief of Employ­er Ser­vices at MOED, to find out how you can hire local via the city­wide work­force network.
  • For local pol­i­cy­mak­ers: Reach out to Jason Perkins-Cohen to dis­cuss how new poli­cies and ini­tia­tives can con­tribute to a more coor­di­nat­ed, equi­table and effec­tive work­force system.
  • For fun­ders: Sup­ple­ment pub­lic work­force dol­lars with flex­i­ble grant funds that work­force prac­ti­tion­ers can use to improve col­lab­o­ra­tion, data col­lec­tion and direct ser­vices. Read this report for inspiration.

Even a small amount of flex­i­ble dol­lars can expo­nen­tial­ly increase the effec­tive­ness of large pub­licly fund­ed pro­grams,” says Perkins-Cohen. Pro­grams across the city are unques­tion­ably stronger when they have the resources and flex­i­bil­i­ty to tai­lor their approach­es to the things they know res­i­dents need — even when that may break tra­di­tion­al molds.”

Learn about efforts to expand employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties in Baltimore

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