At the core of Newport's Working Cities Challenge initiative is lifting up low-income, unemployed, and underemployed residents. This will be accomplished by establishing an integrated and efficient system for a high-skilled workforce, properly preparing students and adults for high-paying jobs, and ensuring a pipeline of candidates to fill vacancies in the high-demand industries within Newport.
The Newport Working Cities team envisions a community in which all community members - particularly those most disenfranchised - are able to gain the knowledge, skills and resources needed to earn a livable wage. This team plans an effort that will break through silos and collectively address the interconnected issues that contribute to unemployment/underemployment and poverty while creating resilient communities that empower community members – all while building upon the capabilities of those who have themselves experienced poverty. The goal of the Newport Working Cities team is to lift families out of poverty through the development of a well-established, integrated and efficient workforce development system that prepares unemployed and underemployed Newport residents for higher skilled, higher paying jobs and which ensures a pipeline of candidates are available to fill vacancies in high demand industries within this city.
The Boys & Girls Club of Newport County (BGC) is serving as the organizational lead for this endeavor. Other members of the core team include: Boys & Girls Club of Newport County, Newport Partnership for Families (representing over 40 public and private agencies in Newport), the Newport School District, Community College of Rhode Island, Newport Community School (also lead agency for the Aquidneck Island Adult Learning Center), the City of Newport and its Department of Civic Investment, Newport Housing Authority, East Bay Community Action Program, Newport Health Equity Zone, FabNewport, the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, a representative from the Newport School Committee and a representative from City Council.
The North End neighborhood of Newport is an area that has long been marginalized – minority populations are over-represented and the poverty rate is more than 300 percent higher than that of the city as a whole (48.7 percent vs. 15.1 percent, respectively). Residents of the North End are challenged by factors such as an inadequate public transportation system, inaccessible and unaffordable child care, limited career pathways, and insufficient work experiences available for youth, to name only some examples. Insufficient opportunities and inequitable access to resources make it difficult for residents in Newport to obtain a livable wage and escape poverty.
The Newport Working Cities' 10-year shared result is to decrease the poverty rate in Newport by 20 percent. In order to move the needle on poverty to meet our ambitious goal, Newport Working Cities is taking a multi-pronged approach that addresses the needs of children, adults and families and that removes barriers for those most impacted by poverty and disparity. A few key short-term outcomes include: (1) increasing the number of job training and internship opportunities available to high school students: 50 students in year one will participate in meaningful internships; (2) increasing the number of teachers in Newport Public Schools who will serve as mentors to students in order to guide them on a path to success: there will be a 20 percent increase in the number of mentor-mentee matches; (3) Establish a Dream Room/Job Clearinghouse that will serve as a one-stop career center for residents and employers alike: 25 residents will receive services in year one, 50 in year two, and 100 in year three; (4) the team will identify local policies that could be changed related to the cliff effect - the decrease in benefits that often occurs with even a nominal pay increase, keeping families trapped in poverty.
Strategies & Actions
The Newport Working Cities team has developed numerous strategies aimed not only at reducing poverty but reducing disparities as well. Early on in the process, the group broke out into four work groups: residents, K-12, young adults (18-26) and adults. Each team identified a "Dream Room/Resource Center" as a priority strategy that would meet the needs of both residents and employers, helping to set community members on a career path and helping employers to fill vacancies.
Additional strategies identified by the team include, but are not limited to: (1) working with local businesses to increase job training opportunities for youth; (2) matching students to mentors within the public schools to provide better guidance and support to students and parents; (3) providing more opportunities in school for experiential learning; (4) exploring entrepreneurial and asset-based approaches to addressing factors such as transportation and child care barriers; and (5) developing stackable credential and job training/apprenticeship programs that will lead community members down promising career pathways.
Information provided on this page is sourced from the team's implementation grant application.
- City of Newport, Director of Civic Investment
- Newport Partnership for Families
- Newport County Public Schools
- Newport Area Career and Technical Center
- One Newport
- East Bay Community Action Program
- Emerald Cities Providence
The Newport Working Cities Challenge team seeks to have a well-established, integrated and efficient workforce development system that prepares low income, unemployed, and underemployed Newport residents for higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs. The workforce development system will also ensure a pipeline of candidates is available to fill vacancies in high demand industries within Newport.
The Newport Working Cities team is addressing poverty (24.4% of children), mobility (the City lost half of its population over the past 50 years and the population decreased 7% since the last Census) and subpar high school graduation rates (79%), through a workforce development program that properly prepares students and adults for high demand, high paying jobs.