The Charlottesville, Virginia region is home to more than 12,024 impoverished families, the majority being people of color. These families cannot survive on the meager wages they earn. Multigenerational poverty is a sad reality for children growing up in these homes.
To break the cycle of poverty, these families need to be connected to survival wage jobs and placed onto the path to financial security. Solving this problem is of paramount importance in the aftermath of the August 2017 white supremacist march that rocked our community. We must create pathways to survival-wage employment opportunities for all residents.
Implementing a Solution:
Piedmont Virginia Community College’s award-winning Network2Work program leads the charge toward a unique workforce solution for these families and our community. This solution, the Network2Work@PVCC, partners with over 175 community organizations, employers and support providers to maximize existing regional resources.
- Our initial challenge is finding these families. Most distrust or are disconnected from the very institutions established to serve them. Network2Work uses a political-style ground game of well-connected “peers” in low-income neighborhoods to identify job-seekers. These peers, people who “know everybody,” lie at the heart of our approach.
- Network2Work’s full-time staff of five members identifies survival wage jobs and leverages more than 250 peers to identify job-seekers.
- Peers guide job-seekers through an assessment using PVCC’s customized, web-based tool (N2Work). N2Work maps the employment pathway along with training at PVCC and resources for all identified barriers, like childcare, transportation and housing. Partners share access to the job-seeker’s pathway and needs mapped in N2Work.
- Once training ends, an “exit interview” is conducted to ensure the individual has the skills and resources needed to excel at the job.
- Job-seekers are placed in jobs that pay at least $25,000 per year and do not require a college degree, leading to family-sustaining wages.
WHAT AREAS ARE SERVED BY NETWORK2WORK@PVCC?
PVCC’s program serves the college’s entire service region, which includes the city of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson.
Network2Work recently enrolled the 500th job-seeker. To date, 81% of Network2Work’s program completers are employed, and 63% of those jobs pay more than $25,000 annually. Thirty-one percent of our job-seekers are single parents.
WHAT RESOURCES DOES NETWORK2WORK PROVIDE FOR JOB SEEKERS?
Once the peer network identifies a good match for an available job, Network2Work creates a pathway that will provide that individual with the resources he or she needs to secure the job. Resources may include:
- Work skills (e.g., literacy, workplace readiness, or technical)
- Life management (e.g., childcare, transportation, stable shelter, or apparel)
- Health (e.g., physical, mental, or substance abuse recovery)
Once a job-seeker completes the pathway charted for them, a third-party conducts an “exit interview” as a quality assurance measure to make sure the individual has the skills and resources they need in order to excel at the job.