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Improving workforce development, economic wellness and public health

Frontline workers represent the largest and most diverse part of the U.S. workforce. They support and serve their communities, but are left out of training programs and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives that could help them grow in their careers and ultimately build wealth. WKKF collaborated with McKinsey & Company, PolicyLink and Walmart on a new report about the challenges frontline employees of color face. It recommends actions companies and workers can take to create more equitable workplaces.

New community economic wellness centers are sprouting in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, driving entrepreneurship and business incubators in harmony with the community. The new centers provide the community with support and economic and learning opportunities for more families and children. A community-conceived social enterprise model developed by Partnership for Community Action and Southwest Creations Collaborative, and a cooperative from Rio Grande Community Development Corporation, the centers are family-friendly campuses in the heart of the South Valley – creating places where families and children can come together to innovate, work and grow.

WKKF grantees in Battle Creek, Michigan – including Michigan Works! Southwest, Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Kellogg Community College, Women’s Co-op, Community Action Agency and The Village Network – created a cohesive workforce development system operating under a “no wrong door” policy, so job seekers can approach any partner in the system, apply for help and then be connected to every partner to receive the support they need, without having to fill out additional applications. Together, they’ve launched a new website called Connect Battle Creek to help families at or below the poverty level find a job. The website also features resources that help them overcome barriers like houselessness, lack of access to affordable child care, transportation challenges and criminal convictions so they can stay employed.  

Black mothers are three times more likely to die from causes associated with pregnancy than White women, according to the CDC. Among the challenges? Barriers and stigma that make it difficult for moms to focus on mental health. The Shades of Blue Project, a WKKF grantee, recently highlighted these challenges during Black Maternal Mental Health Week and was featured on ABC13 in Houston.

How much is the United States underfunding public health? By about $4.5 billion a year, according to the Trust for America’s Health. A new report by the WKKF grantee documents how chronic underfunding of public health programs has slowed the COVID-19 response and led to persistent health inequities, especially for communities of color, low-income communities and older adults. The report, which details public health funding trends, finds that in the midst of ongoing public health challenges, some states are spending less on public health than they were in 2021 – and in some cases, significantly less. CBS Sunday Morning also notes the continuing challenges facing our nation’s public health system in a segment featuring Oklahoma City’s health department, part of the Big Cities Health Coalition, a WKKF grantee.

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