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Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker. How About Executive?

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker. How About Executive?

East Hartford is one of six communities selected by the Boston Fed to jump start local economic growth under its Working Cities Challenge. The town team’s long-term ambition? Uplift the Silver Lane neighborhood by, among other things, equipping residents with the basic skills and resources needed to gain career-track employment.

This career focus is not just for adults, though. The Silver Lane Elementary School is now inspiring its students to begin looking ahead to career possibilities.

Nationwide nonprofit Spark has been doing the same for middle school students for the last 15 years and has garnered some stellar results. Participating kids are much more likely to graduate high school, understand the relevance of class work to future employment, and develop the social and emotional skills needed for the workplace.

So why not begin even earlier, allowing grade schoolers to explore who they can become, discover career options and understand the relevance of today’s learning. Check out the career day video short produced by East Hartford CONNect and the East Hartford Public Schools.

For a little more background, here is why the East Hartford Working Cities Challenge team chose the Silver Lane community as its focus. Silver Lane is about 56 percent minority, compared to the rest of East Hartford, and has:

  • higher poverty rates
  • more households led solely by females
  • fewer residents with college degrees
  • poorer elementary education outcomes
  • significant underemployment
  • household median incomes 30 percent below the town-wide median

Over the next 10 years, East Hartford’s goal is to increase average incomes of 200 of the neighborhood’s 2,000 households, thus impacting approximately 500 residents.

They anticipate that many more people will be affected, as they begin receiving education and training or follow career paths that will ultimately lead them to future success and stable income.

An employer-led partnership will facilitate the alignment of career opportunities with the workforce readiness of the neighborhood’s residents. This means increased communication between employers and job seekers, and hiring practices that more effectively find and train qualified local residents for open positions.

Overall, East Hartford’s team hopes to create a career development culture based on a mutual understanding that information must flow in both directions and that embracing potential workers in this community can be beneficial for both businesses and job seekers.