Thirteen percent of Berkshire County residents live at or below the poverty rate, which translates to 16,038 Berkshire County residents. There are more than 17,000 people age 16-64 who are unemployed in Berkshire County, and only 2,700 of them are collecting unemployment benefits with job placement support. An additional 26,000 people are underemployed.
That's why Berkshire United Way is focused on strategies that will help families along the path to sustainable incomes. For several years, Berkshire United Way has partnered with many organizations to address the challenges local families are experiencing that negatively impact their financial stability. More recently we have been approached by several of our corporate partners noting an interest to further engage their employees and companies in financial literacy/education and strategies that will help families along the path to sustainable incomes. While connecting families to incoming boosting benefits such as SNAP, Transitional Assistance and Earned Income Tax Credits is important in the short term, our belief is that we need to move from short term program interventions to long term, systems strategies that result in increased income and assets gained from employment. This also supports local businesses' workforce development needs, helping to build prosperity for all.
Two strategies that support pathways to sustainable income are:
1) Employment Match Maker (Family Sustaining Employment/Pathways)
Rationale: To match individuals seeking employment with open jobs in Berkshire County. To meet the needs of both employers and unemployed and/or underemployed individuals.
The roles and responsibilities of this position include:
- Facilitate community conversations with employers / individuals seeking employment
- Identify employer needs – what skill sets are employees looking for in their workforce? What is missing from existing pool of applicants?
- Identify employee needs – what is preventing employees from gaining employment?
- Identify existing resources for both employers/employees – assets and gaps
- Identify career pathways that provide sustainable incomes
- Support individuals seeking employment in obtaining job-relevant trainings, certificates, degrees
- Match people seeking employment with open jobs
- Connect individuals to other community resources as needed
- Attend Economic Prosperity Impact Council meetings
2) Adult Work-Based Experiences (includes College Internships)
Rationale: To provide non-working adults with work-based experiential learning/internship opportunities they need to succeed in the world of work during the summer and/or school year. The intention is to provide local adults with on the job training so they are better positioned to seek employment in Berkshire County. Program staff must work closely with employers to identify industries with open jobs and career pathways that will provide a sustainable income.
Berkshire United Way Request for Proposal Funding
The Request for Proposal for Economic Prosperity is currently closed.