Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo
Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo is a community collaborative initiated by the Kalamazoo City Commission to promote increased access to well-paying jobs, strong & economically secure families, and healthy growth, development and learning for all our kids.
The core of our plan to promote more broadly shared prosperity in Kalamazoo is to enable more residents of the city to access good jobs. We are convinced that this is fundamental for the well-being of Kalamazoo’s children and their families, as well as for the very future of our city. We also believe that with a strong plan and the active involvement of stakeholders from across our community, this is something that we can accomplish.
- Too many Kalamazoo residents who want to work can’t find jobs, and for many of those who do, the jobs they have are only part-time or do not pay enough to support a family above the poverty line.
- The median income of Kalamazoo families in 2013 of $40,679 was only two-thirds of that for the state of Michigan ($60,849) and just 63 percent of the national median income.
- 32 percent of Kalamazoo families with children had incomes below the federal poverty line, compared to 21 percent statewide and 18 percent nationally.
- Two-thirds of the 2,900 Kalamazoo families with incomes below the federal poverty line have at least one family member who works.
- If we were to do nothing, not only would the future of low income children and their families be jeopardized, but so would the financial future of the city. This lesson was underscored by the recent downgrading of our municipal bonds, with the prevalence of poverty in the city being cited as the main reason.
Hundreds of well-paying jobs are available that employers say they cannot fill because of a shortage of qualified applicants. Many of these jobs do not require advanced degrees that might be unrealistic for adult heads of families to attain in the short to medium term. There is much that can and must be done to help connect job seekers and employers, such as:
- Increase access to and explore what can be done to improve success rates of short and medium term vocational training programs, including those offered by KRESA, KVCC as well as those offered by the private sector
- Improve the “soft skills” of job seekers
- Eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment for ex-offenders
- Explore innovative strategies to address the childcare and transportation needs of workers
- Discuss with employers what more they could do to meet the needs of prospective workers in Kalamazoo, as well as their current employees.
The activities of Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo are guided by a steering committee consisting of:
August 28 Strategic Update:
May 15 Strategic Workshop:
The Opportunity Ecosystem presentation by Dr. Richard Reeves, followed by a panel discussion feat. Von Washington Jr (Kalamazoo Promise), Tim Suprise (Arcadia Ales), and Kalamazoo County Commissioner Stephanie Moore.
Dr. Richard Reeves discussing social mobility in the U.S. (To learn more about Mr. Reeves, visit http://www.brookings.edu/experts/reevesr)