Empowering individuals with the resources they need to secure and maintain employment

Empowering Employment Pathway Grants

Data from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) identified multiple census tracts in Evansville and bordering counties as “distressed communities” due to the high rate of prime-age workers (25-54 years old) not working. Lack of childcare, lack of transportation, and lack of affordable housing were often cited as barriers which prevent local workers from getting or keeping a good, stable job.

In November 2021, UWSWI began addressing this community challenge by awarding grants in the Empowering Employment pathway, specifically focusing on programs that helped individuals gain or advance employment.

Round two of Empowering Employment pathway grants were announced in December 2023, and targeted specific barriers like childcare and transportation that prevent people from finding and keeping a job. Keep reading to learn more about these United Way funded programs and how your donations make a positive difference in the greater Evansville region.  

Nearly $1 Million Awarded to Address Barriers to Employment

Barrier – Lack of Available Childcare

We know flexible and reliable childcare options allow parents to work consistently and maintain long-term employment while ensuring the safety of their children. But, many families struggle to find quality childcare that matches their work hours and specific needs.

To ease the burden on these families, UWSWI funded two local childcare programs. 

ARK Crisis Children’s Center Working Parents Program that provides childcare based on when a family needs it and Carver Community Organization’s childcare program that serves children 6 weeks to 12 years old, Monday through Friday, from 2:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Barrier – Lack of Transportation

Access to reliable transportation remains a significant barrier for individuals in the region who are trying to access higher-paying jobs.

Missing Pieces Development Corporation operates a worksite transportation program that provides free, daily bus/van services to more than 70 worksites in the region, including major employers in nearby counties.

UWSWI contributed to this important initiative to help people who are unable to obtain a driver’s license, who share a vehicle with others, or need transportation between adjoining counties find and keep good jobs. This includes residents with disabilities that prevent them from operating a vehicle.  

Barrier – Legal and Institutional Hurdles

Securing a new job becomes infinitely more difficult when you have a criminal history or don’t have government-issued ID. Language and cultural differences, low literacy skills, and not knowing who to trust makes it even harder. 

UWSWI supported Southwest Indiana Workforce Board’s neighborhood-based employment assistance program called Neighborhood Employment Navigators (NENs) in Vanderburgh, Warrick, and Spencer Counties to increase enrollment, retention, and follow-through from those needing employment assistance.

Legal Aid Society of Evansville also received grant funding to upgrade software legally required for processing expungements. This will allow Legal Aid to more quickly address client cases, increase the number of clients served, and improve the process for everyone involved. 

Wage growth is one element in the complex issue of poverty and employment. Barriers to employment are significant to many populations. Limited access to quality childcare, lack of transportation, and housing instability are a few of the problems low-income workers may face.

2021 Empowering Employment Strategies and Recipients

These projects and programs received a combined $250,000 of funding during the first round of Empowering Employment pathway grants. They focused on our goal of helping unemployed and underemployed people find and secure a job. 

Grow Southwest Indiana Workforce

Our funded partners at GSWI provide assessments, job training, and job placement. UWSWI grant funding enabled an expansion of services to people who are struggling but don't qualify for government assistance and those who live in Spencer and Warrick Counties. It also placed Neighborhood Navigators in various nonprofits throughout Evansville.

Ivy Tech Foundation

United Way partnered with Ivy Tech Foundation to fund a pilot program called IvyBridges. Students in this program consist of unemployed or underemployed individuals who wish to obtain a CDL license. Scholarships cover nearly all the cost of tuition, books, and fees. Ivy Tech's vast network of regional partners help connect students to open CDL jobs.

Missing Pieces Development Corporation

Reliable, consistent transportation can be a significant barrier for individuals trying to find better, higher-paying jobs. United Way partnered with Missing Pieces to pilot a new bus/van route that crossed from eastern Vanderburgh County into western Warrick County and provided job seekers with transportation to the companies and organizations located in that growing area.

You can direct your gift to support empowering employment initiatives

MORNING FLIGHT GOLFERS: We are still on for this morning. The ECC and UWSWI staff will monitor the weather for lightning and will make a call as soon as possible. We may have a delay.

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