The YWCA Southeast Wisconsin has been awarded an $80,000 grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Racial Equity & Inclusion Fund. The grant will fund a community readiness assessment aimed at developing employment solutions for unskilled job seekers.
“Employment inequities must be addressed before we can achieve racial equity in Milwaukee” said Paula Penebaker, President and CEO of the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin. “I’m thankful to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation for recognizing this need in our community and making racial equity and inclusion a funding priority.”
A disproportionate number of individuals who are poor, unskilled, and unemployed or underemployed in the US are people of color. The employment disparity is particularly devastating for African Americans. In March 2015, the Economic Policy Institute released a study indicating that Wisconsin has the highest unemployment rate among African Americans (19.9%) in the nation. They estimate that 1 in 5 working-age African Americans in Wisconsin are without a job.
The YWCA will use the community readiness assessment model designed by the Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research. The model scores a set of open ended questions that are used to measure the attitudes, knowledge, efforts and activities, and resources available in Milwaukee for addressing this issue.
Information collected from the assessment will be used to develop partnerships among employers and the YWCA to uncover effective solutions for employing the target population.
The YWCA has extensive experience administering programs for economically disadvantaged individuals and has offered employment and training programs since 1995. Much of the YWCA’s work has focused on preparing job seekers for employment. The community readiness assessment will engage employers in the conversations and eventual action steps toward resolving the issue of unemployment among unskilled job seekers.
“We take our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women very seriously,” said Penebaker. “This assessment will help ensure that the YWCA is doing the right work that will gain the support of local employers and help unskilled job seekers in the most effective way.”