Best Practices - Vol. IV

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke

Baltimore City Career Center Network

For years, government-sponsored job training programs had been difficult to access, plagued by duplication of services, and an increasing frustration to citizens in need. The Department of Labor's response to the problem was aggressive promotion of One-Stop job training systems nationwide. In 1994, a competitive implementation grant process began.

Prior to the development of a formal One-Stop grant application, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and the mayoral- appointed Baltimore City Private Industry Council (PIC) began to deal with issues of service integration across local workforce development agencies and training providers. As the official One-Stop planning team for Baltimore City, this committee participated in and oversaw the development of a comprehensive local plan.

From this collaboration, a renovated employment and training delivery system was developed to (a) bring myriad funding streams and training resources together; (b) broker them to the unemployed through a decentralized network of employment centers; and (c) provide customized employment services to area employers. In cooperation with the State of Maryland's Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation, the Baltimore Urban League, and the AFL-CIO, Mayor Schmoke -- along with his Office of Employment Development and the local PIC -- succeeded in creating the Career Center Network.

Coupled with Mayor Schmoke's Employ Baltimore campaign, which aggressively promotes employment for City residents, the Career Center Network is an effective vehicle for linking available jobs with qualified Baltimore job seekers. The Schmoke administration strongly supports using workforce development services as tools to improve the educational and employment status of City residents, particularly those residing in low-income and minority neighborhoods. Consequently, another theme of the City's One-Stop initiative is to "close the education, employment, and earnings gaps between Baltimoreans and other metropolitan area residents by helping City residents compete successfully for local jobs."

Through its six community-based career centers and community satellites, the Network promotes: universal access, customer choice, service integration, and outcome-based performance measures. Its overriding mission is to provide effective employment and training services to the entire Baltimore community through comprehensive integration and coordination of services among sites and funding sources, a customer service approach, and state-of-the-art technology.

In 1995, Baltimore City was one of 10 model One-Stop locations selected by the Department of Labor to serve as a national "learning lab" for others who want to develop the career center concept and One-Stop system in their respective communities. The award was made, in part, to show how a One-Stop functions when it has multiple connections to other initiatives and projects. By taking its local vision beyond the state's minimum requirements for using electronic linkages to coordinate referrals, Baltimore City's Career Center Network model has well exceeded its promise.

Full-service career centers feature services provided on-site by each of the partnering agencies. For instance, job seekers may register for unemployment insurance, use state-of-the-art computer equipment to search for jobs and assess career interests, upgrade basic skills through software tutorials, investigate training provider options and eligibility requirements, as well as get medical screening -- all under one roof. Staff from the various partner agencies also share general intake responsibility to ensure a seamless team approach in delivering all basic (no income eligibility) services at each center.

Furthermore, by encouraging collaboration between the City's economic development arm (Baltimore Development Corporation), employment and training providers (Office of Employment Development, Job Service and local community colleges) and empowerment zone organizers (Empower Baltimore Management Corporation) through the Employ Baltimore campaign, Mayor Schmoke has lured many new businesses to the City and connected hundreds of low-income residents to employment opportunities.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (410) 396-4846
or Office of Employment Development, (410) 396-1910

YouthWorks '96

In July of 1995 Congressional budget adjustments eliminated 1996 funding for summer jobs for economically disadvantaged teens. Over 70 percent of Baltimore City teens are economically disadvantaged and the summer jobs program traditionally afforded teens their first work experience. Structured public services work experiences reinforce workplace skills and help prepare this population for private sector employment.

Mayor Schmoke was not willing to abandon Baltimore's youth. The Mayor invited City leaders in business, foundations, non-profits and community-based organizations, religious organizations, government and media to form a leadership coalition to create a community sponsored summer youth employment program called YouthWorks '96. He asked these leaders to launch initiatives within their "segments" to develop a total of 3,000 summer jobs for City teens. It was determined that $650 would support one teen working 20 hours per week for five weeks (including FICA, workman's compensation and administrative/payroll costs). Using this as a guideline, leaders generated both jobs and dollar contributions utilizing the Baltimore City Foundation, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) organization.

Baltimore has a 14-year history of private sector participation in summer jobs efforts. Building on this foundation, each leader expanded upon previous strategies to develop the additional jobs needed. The Mayor held follow-up meetings, attended fundraising events hosted by segment leaders, co-signed solicitation letters, lobbied Congress and the President to reinstate funding for summer jobs, taped public service announcements for local TV affiliates to air, highlighted YouthWorks '96 on his public TV show and Thursday morning press conferences and hosted an end-of-summer awards event to acknowledge each segment leader, as well as outstanding work sites, supervisors and student workers.

Congress eventually funded a significantly reduced summer jobs program in late spring, the YouthWorks '96 effort enabled Baltimore to offer many more teens the chance to be productive during the summer. Through the leadership team's campaign: Non-profits created 100 jobs, foundations raised funds for 100 positions, City agencies developed 800 jobs, business leaders netted 600 jobs, local media organized a massive publicity campaign, annual commitments made through an aggressive City employee payroll deduction campaign totaled $140,000, 381 community work sites hosted youth employees in subsidized positions, and 140 area employers hired 800 young people for unsubsidized positions.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (410) 396-4846
or Office of Employment Development, (410) 396-1910

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