Our Foundation’s vision is a vibrant and inclusive Greater Dubuque region with resources and opportunities for all. We see our role in building this vision as being a convener and catalyst in our community, providing community leadership and a table for economic security efforts.
Project Hope, a partnership between the City of Dubuque and the Community Foundation, has been convening local philanthropy, business, government, education, workforce, and service providers since 2008 to improve inter-agency collaboration and increase access to services to connect disengaged youth and adults to education and employment opportunities.
Examples of initiatives that have grown out of these partnerships include Opportunity Dubuque, a certificate career pathways program created in conjunction with the local community college and local manufacturing to provide training for unemployed/underemployed low-income workers and youth. Early outcome data shows promising results with a high graduation rate and employment for 93 percent of those who completed a training program.
Project Hope served a similar role in convening partners to create Re-Engage Dubuque, a collaboration with the public school system and community colleges to identify participation barriers and devise solutions for high school dropouts. Since the program was established three years ago, the dropout rate has decreased by nearly half and 308 students have been reengaged, with 96 graduating with high school diplomas or high school equivalency degrees.
The Community Foundation will host the National League of Cities 2016 Reengagement Plus convening for communities across the country employing reengagement models. Anyone who wants to learn more about reengagement models is welcome to attend.
How does the foundation think about this work?
Our strategy is to align services and help form partnerships that make use of the many resources already in the community. We have over 500 nonprofits in Dubuque and our role is to help to bring those partnerships together, to use all the community strengths we have to address current needs, and, through that process, identify gaps. Project Hope itself exists to help create opportunity for all in Dubuque by supporting partnerships and networks in order to create educational and career pathways to work toward family economic security.
What kinds of efforts are you currently focusing on?
We have been further honing aspects of both Opportunity Dubuque and Re-Engage Dubuque, working to build supports for harder-to-reach populations. For instance, we are developing supports around our career pathways program to help those who aren’t quite ready for the test to get into the certificate program. We understand that relationships are critical and we are working to build connections and “warm hand-offs” between agencies in order to build that next layer of support.
As we pool these resources, we are also providing more opportunities for financial inclusion. By tightening the service and support web, additional asset-building opportunities can be highlighted and can also be more closely tied to individuals’ goals in a meaningful way.
What kind of EITC-related work does your foundation support? What are some of the different strategies?
We have been promoting EITC outreach and education efforts and have also done education around advocacy with providers. Looking forward, we will be participating in a National League of Cities project to build financial inclusion for families. Dubuque is one of eight cities participating in the project and the mayors of all eight will come together for a Mayor’s Institute on Financial Inclusion this April. For now, in this cohort, we will be working on increasing our Bank On Dubuque efforts by enhancing system delivery. But we also have future plans to pair EITC awareness with asset-building efforts. The financial inclusion project is an opportunity to learn how this has been done well in other communities alongside our local partners.
Why does your foundation support EITC-related work?
Our community foundation is focused on people succeeding, equity, and opportunity for all. We know that a big piece of success in this arena is outreach and effective service delivery. We also know that the financial education piece is critical and we see so much potential around that with the EITC. Consistent with our strategy and strengths, we want to do whatever we can to make sure that those resources that are already in place (such as the EITC), both remain in place and are accessible to the community. Promoting the EITC and aligning partners to utilize it most effectively is consistent with our role as a network convener.
What topic or issue would you be interested to talk with your funder-colleagues about?
We are interested in learning best practices and strategies from our colleagues about creating financial capability and integrating the EITC work with other asset-building strategies.