The Equity Works Connect event took place on September 25, 2017 at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis.  More than 100 individuals working across the sector came together to participate in meaningful (and difficult) conversations about the challenges and needs of the field. 

Below you can find the PowerPoint presentations and preliminary results from the Employer Engagement survey.  Check back soon for a harvest, detailing the thoughts captured during the event.

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Our purpose:

Cultivate workforce development practices and systems that lead to outcomes which address the equity crisis impacting communities of color and American Indians in Minnesota

This new peer learning network, named Equity Works, is in its infancy. Currently, a Core Team has been convened, bringing together the movers and shakers of the workforce development sector to design the projects’ activities to be of most service in systems change. This initiative is supported by MSPWin.

This peer learning network seeks to build the field of workforce development by engaging service organizations in improvement around effective program practice and results. It will also provide public and private funders a neutral place for sharing information and considering policy implementation and system redesign. By joining these various elements, the project will help to move the system towards a more consistent means for investing in and providing workforce and career development service that improves the chances of disadvantaged workers succeeding in Minnesota’s labor market.


What Can We Do

  • Make  racial disparities, access and outcomes front and center in our work
  • Help employers visualize career pathways and methodology
  • Strengthen the capacity of organizations delivering direct service
  • Infuse innovation as we wrestle with the tension between clarity and compliance in the field
  • Shine a light on programs that are working within the field locally and nationally
  • Inspire and support state-level changes

Recognizing the Core Need

  • To explore and develop more strategic funding in workforce
  • To address multi-system failure for people of color
  • A shared set of measurement for defining success among service organizations and the ability to utilize data as a means to support program improvement
  • To keep employers informed and invested on our work

Our approach to this work...

...with direct service organizations

We aim to share solutions to optimize common operational problems, provide support for using data, share effective service delivery practices, and build capacity to sustain organization resources and programs. Some proposed tactics under this banner of work:

  • Frontline Peer Learning Community: Within key areas of service provision, convene frontline staff to share effective strategies with proven records of success relating to curriculum, grant management and data.
  • Data Collection & Outcome Management: Facilitate effective data management that leads to outcome driven program improvement. Cultivate culturally based practices authenticated by evidence. Establish data access and application for direct service organizations. 


...with individual change-makers

We work to build a learning community that understands both demographic trends in the field and promising national and local program responses to develop and advocate for solutions. Some identified ways forward:

  • Leadership Development: Build courage and skills to create capacity to lead organizational and systems change.
  • Replicate National Program Models: Identify successful workforce programs nationwide to bring promising practices and replicate national program models to fit the uniqueness and demographics of communities in Minnesota.



...with cross-sector, cross-level decision makers.


We engage public funders, philanthropic donors, service providers, and employers who need to work effectively together to strengthen this field.

  • Employer Equity Training: Develop and implement equity training and education for all employers. Stress culturally appropriate hiring tactics and expose barriers to employment for communities of color.
  • “Blueprint” Restructuring & Implementation: Organize a taskforce to deepen the Blueprint so that it reflects the work of cross-sector workforce development programs.
  • Cross-Sector Networking: Convene people across sector silos and levels to maximize resource investment and minimize redundancy. Address gaps in funding, effective services, and employment needs.

To learn more...

We worked closely and collaboratively with our Core Team to build out Equity Works. 

Click on the image above to download our two page Summary of Equity Works to get a quick snapshot of this initiative. 

Click on the image above to download our five-page How We Got Here document to learn more about our work with our Core Team to build the vision, purpose, and directions forward for Equity Works. 

Have a Suggestion?

Let your voice be heard, send us your thoughts and ideas!