Hartford Working Cities

The Working Cities Challenge was started by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to improve the lives of lower-income people in small- and mid-size cities through cross-sector collaboration and leadership.

In Connecticut, five cities participated in the Working Cities Challenge – including Hartford. The Hartford Working Cities’ (HWC) vision is for Hartford to be a place where young adults:

  1. Have the skills and talents needed by local and regional business;
  2. Contribute to the city’s economy; and,
  3. Raise families who are economically secure and enjoy a good quality of life.

This initiative focuses on increasing employment rates of young adults, particularly opportunity youth (those who are not currently in school or working), in targeted neighborhoods in Hartford.

HWC addresses a few key challenges:

  • Lack of awareness: Many young adults are unaware of career paths and need help finding opportunities to develop essential skills.
  • Service delivery system challenges: There are many programs to help young adults get the preparation services and training they need, but they are often offered in isolation from other services that would accelerate progress toward improved employment outcomes.
  • Employer policies and practices: Barriers to hiring and retaining young adults include policies and practices that limit young adults’ exposure to their opportunities; and/or otherwise exclude them from consideration.
  • Young adults are often excluded from decision-making by community leaders.

United Way is partnering with community leaders to address these challenges through three projects: The Career Navigation Community of Practice, Hartford Workforce Leaders Academy and Young Legends.

Career Navigation Community of Practice

The Hartford Workforce Leaders Academy (HWLA) initiative is a 5-month fellowship designed for senior and middle managers from workforce development and youth service organizations who influence and implement policies and practices related to employment outcomes for young adults.

The HWLA focuses on equipping workforce leaders with skills and connections that help them with implementing best practices and advancing systems changes that improve young adult outcomes, particularly related to employment. Participants in three cohorts of the program have represented more than 20 organizations in Hartford.

Young Legends

The Young Legends, a group of young adults from Hartford, work to connect youth and young adults, ages 16-29, to quality employment opportunities and resources. They connect young adults to programs and training that aim to equip youth and young adults with the skills needed to become successful in and out of the workplace. In addition, this initiative creates and sustains a peer outreach network.

Through Young Legends, HWC also provides various opportunities for young adults to share their perspectives with leaders in the workforce system to influence policies and practices.