News Release|

The Portland Shared Prosperity Initiative – a partnership between Worksystems, Mt. Hood Community College, Oregon Department of Human Services and Joint Office of Homeless Services – will receive a $1M philanthropic investment from JPMorgan Chase to bring to scale a successful pilot to align workforce development, housing and social safety net systems to support the childcare needs of women, people of color and low-income households with young children who wish to pursue occupational training and enter middle-income careers.

Over 18,000 families in Multnomah County lived below the poverty line between 2012-2017

In Multnomah County, a startling 48% of female-headed households with young children live in poverty and 50% of these head of households have a high school diploma or less. Occupational training enables entry into middle-income careers and access to opportunities for families. However, structural barriers such as lack of affordable childcare and housing insecurity can prevent individuals from pursuing training, leading to increased childhood poverty and intergenerational poverty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities especially hard. Women and BIPOC workers are overrepresented in the industries hardest hit by the pandemic-driven recession, including food services, hospitality, health care, social assistance and retail trade. In the early months of the crisis, women suffered higher rates of job loss and in the months since, they have experienced smaller job gains than their male counterparts. In September, more than 850,000 women left the workforce nationally compared to just over 216,000 men. To help combat these trends, funding from Worksystems will support occupational training and culturally responsive career coaching to support entry into middle-income careers.

Statewide, only 16% of families eligible for childcare subsidies received support

“The Portland Shared Prosperity Initiative seeks to ensure that underrepresented populations are systematically afforded access to training leading to increased economic opportunity through the removal of primary barriers such as lack of childcare”, said Andrew McGough, Worksystems Executive Director. “We will carefully measure impact to ensure that resources are deployed in alignment with this intent.”

The Portland Shared Prosperity Initiative offers a solution to systemic barriers to opportunity that have burdened low-income parents in our community. In the past, training opportunities were offered for high-growth, middle-income careers without having solved for the lack of access to quality, culturally responsive childcare, which has led to the effect of overlooking people who stand to benefit most from these trainings. Likewise, when systems make subsidies available for early learning without connecting to a dedicated strategy to increase parental income, financial stability remains difficult for many families to achieve. Multiple agencies deploying early learning funds with workforce training funds is at the heart of this initiative. By linking childcare and training for middle-income careers, more families will move out of the cycle of poverty and off public assistance.

Thank you JPMorgan Chase for supporting this important work!

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