Lift People Out of Poverty - How We Help

BOLD Goal 4: Lift People Out of Poverty

Why We Invest

Research shows education and poverty are strongly correlated. In order to help people out of poverty, we help parents close skills gaps to attain living-wage employment, while also helping their children access quality, affordable child care. This approach leads to the best long-term outcomes for families. 

The Issue

1 in 9 people live in poverty in our community.

Living in poverty (living on less than $25,750 a year for a family of four) is one of the single greatest threats to a child’s development.

The Action

We expanded the Workforce Development Case Manager program. Six Case Managers provided 400 low-income individuals and new Americans with supportive services necessary to obtain and maintain living-wage employment.

We invested in child care scholarships that provide opportunities for 98 children of low-income working families to access quality early childhood education.

An on-demand public transportation service called TapRide was launched to provide reliable transportation services to individuals in the Fargo Industrial Park. 

The Fargo-Moorhead community is a growing community, with a growing need for workers. According to Gateways for Growth, since 2009, the Fargo-Moorhead population has grown by 19,545 people, or 11.7%. The immigrant population has increased by 3,593 people, or 50.8%. Over 16% of the overall population growth in the area comes from immigrants. This growing population is a major contributing factor to the workforce and has tremendous spending power and tax contributions. Again, according to Gateways for Growth, although the immigrant population is 5% of the area’s overall population, they make up 5.7% of its working-age population with the highest contributions to the workforce in: * 

This population contributes $543 million to the gross domestic product (GDP) and produces another $150 million in spending power. These statistics demonstrate the need to engage with foreign-born populations and provide educational and skill-building opportunities for the working-age population to ensure they can fill the necessary demands for a growing workforce.*

According to a workforce development study commissioned by the Chamber, EDC, FM Area Foundation, and United Way, the new American population offers opportunities to bolster the current and future workforce but needs more educational support. In many roundtable discussions over the course of the project and subsequent study, participants recognized that the new American population offers a resource for employers seeking to fill certain jobs. About 1,100 refugees have been resettled in the Fargo/West Fargo area over the past three years. Employers who have hired these new Americans had positive things to say about their work ethic. They did, however, note the need for English language acquisition and orientation to culture in the workplace.**

There are multiple offerings for English language classes provided by Adult Basic Education (ABE) and workforce readiness and training programs offered through community and technical schools as well as ethnic based community organizations, but participating families often face multiple barriers to accessing programming, such as:

A patchwork system of community-based organizations, nonprofits, and cultural groups do offer basic needs and supportive services for new American families, but there is a lack of coordinated effort between community-based organizations and education institutions to provide services.

United Way sees opportunity in aligning and coordinating efforts to increase access and remove barriers to services by working with ethnic-based community organizations and nonprofits to address specific needs of their communities while addressing the community need of the workforce.

The two-generation model is a model to support workforce development and provide opportunities for low-income families to obtain family-sustaining-wage employment. There is substantial evidence that supports the success of the two-generation model both in outcomes for children and parents. The concept is to tap into the untapped and underutilized talent that already exists in our community while at the same time supporting the workforce of tomorrow by providing a strong foundation for our community’s children. Research has demonstrated that educational attainment and poverty are strongly correlated, and this approach grows the workforce by providing training, education, and support to low-income families to meet the skills gap.***

By providing this two-generation model, we are not only growing the workforce of today but also preparing the workforce of tomorrow through high-quality early childhood education.

There are three key components of a two-generation model: education, economic support, and social capital.***

By providing coordinated access to services, more individuals will have access to services that will assist them in becoming self-sufficient. This will reduce unnecessary duplication of services provided by multiple programs and ensure that individuals are connected with the right services at the right time and in the right location.

*Gateways for Growth | Gateways for Growth Challenge Communities
**Greater Fargo-Moorhead Regional Workforce Study
*** The Annie E. Casey Foundation | Creating Opportunity for Families