Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce - www.cvillechamber.com

WATERSHED “ORANGE DOT PROJECT REPORT” UPDATED – 5,661 ALBEMARLE & CHARLOTTESVILLE FAMILIES (18%) LACK SELF-SUFFCIENCY – PATHWAY OUT OF POVERTY NOTES INITIAL PROGRESS; MORE WORK AHEAD TO “REALIZE THE DREAM”

(Charlottesville, Virginia – September 21)  The Greater Charlottesville Area Development Corporation affiliate of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, today released a 2015 update of the watershed 2011“Orange Dot Project Report” documenting that 5,661 families living in Albemarle and Charlottesville lack basic self-sufficiency and further reported the initial and on-going endeavors of its Charlottesville Works Initiative helping to provide pathways out of poverty to self-sufficiency.

“Realizing the Dream: Family Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville & Albemarle, Virginia (Orange Dot Report 2.0)” will be released publically at the upcoming 2015 Chamber Jobs Action Summit, being held this Wednesday, September 23rd at the Jefferson School City Center in Charlottesville. 

The 2015 Chamber Jobs Action Summit is underwritten by Wells Fargo, UVA Community Credit Union, Adams & Garth Staffing, Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development, CBRE-Charlottesville, Dominion Virginia Power, Great Eastern Management Company, Virginia National Bank and the City of Charlottesville Office of Economic Development, also the Summit’s co-host.

“The Orange Dot Report quantified the fundamental challenge of poverty within the City of Charlottesville in 2011.  Today’s addition of County data confirms that the work of the Chamber’s Charlottesville Works Initiative and other allied efforts, are crucial to understanding the problem and developing strategies to solve it,” stated Chad Zakaib, Vice President of Operations for Legacy Hospice, who serves as 2015 Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors.

“Working with a vast array of community partners, we are implementing an approach to address this daunting challenge,” stated Ridge Schuyler, GCADC Vice President, co-author of the 2011 Report, author of the 2015 Report update and director of the Charlottesville Works Initiative.  “We have the resolve to continue and expand this generational effort.  Together, we can and will succeed.”

“A job, and the backing to sustain a job, is the best anti-poverty, economic development program,” added Chamber President Timothy Hulbert, also serving as GCADC President.  “Building pathways out of poverty into prosperity for our struggling neighbors continues to be a top focus.”

The Report update identifies that within the City of Charlottesville, 1,800 families (25%) lack self-sufficiency and within Albemarle County, 3,861 families (16%) also lack self-sufficiency.  Using a realistic formula accounting for area costs for food, shelter, clothing, energy and transportation – and child care where needed, area families (depending upon the number of children) need to earn $35,000 – $40,000 a year to be self-sufficient. 

The Report calculations utilize “families;” two or more related individuals living at one residence; not “households” data which include non-related individuals living at one residence, thus factoring out the significant student population residing within the area.

The Report affirms that our community has talented, motivated job-seekers and quality, community-minded employers. The Report update notes the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Partnership estimates within Albemarle and Charlottesville alone, approximately 29,000 jobs (many filled, an undetermined number of current and on-going openings) that do not require college degrees.  Thus the task of matching employers and people seeking employment – and assisting them prior to and after being hired – is key.

Growing out of the Orange Dot Report, in May 2013, the Chamber, through its GCADC affiliate, launched its Charlottesville Works Initiative, a business-driven initiative, directed by Mr. Schuyler, to help families achieve self-sufficiency through assisting in the development of jobs and enterprise and connecting people to those jobs.

In the year following launch, the Charlottesville Works Initiative listened to local partners and researched national practices to design a more intentional system for identifying people being left behind in our economy and connecting them to the quality jobs and supports in our community. In October 2014, Charlottesville Works launched a pilot of the model.

Since launching the pilot less than one year ago, the Charlottesville Works Initiative has enrolled 39 job-seekers. Twenty-one (21) are currently in training to pursue careers in nursing, office administration, bookkeeping and fire-fighting. Of the 17 who have completed training, 15 (88%) are employed (88%), and 12 (80%) are now earning over $25,000 annually.

Partners in this early phase have included the Charlottesville Free Clinic, the City of Charlottesville Workforce Strategic Action Team, Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle, the Monticello Area Community Action Agency, Piedmont Virginia Community College, the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area, the WALK program of Charlottesville High School, and the Women’s Initiative.  Employer partners for the Charlottesville Works Initiative pilot include Charlottesville Area Transit, the Charlottesville Parking Center, the Chamber itself, Farmington Country Club, the Graduate hotel, and the University of Virginia Health System.

The model developed by the Charlottesville Works Initiative and its partners charts a pathway for real people to real jobs by using existing social networks to identify quality job-seekers who would otherwise be overlooked, and by using employer networks to identify specific job openings.  The Charlottesville Works Initiative developed an assessment tool with the help of the University of Virginia Curry School of Education to identify support tools an individual may need in order to secure and keep a targeted job.

The Charlottesville Work Initiative also developed a rudimentary web-based platform that allows service providers to collaborate around an individual using shared access to the pathway charted by the assessment.  This mechanism allows support services, such as childcare and transportation, to be aligned across providers behind a person based on an individual’s distinctive needs, much as a digital medical record coordinates specialists around a patient in a hospital based on the chart prepared by the primary care physician. 

A complete description of the Charlottesville Works Initiative job training, job tracking and other program efforts are outlined in the Report update.

The Greater Charlottesville Area Development Corporation was established in 1979 through the initiative of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, as a Chamber affiliate “to aid and support the economic, social, cultural and human development … to advance the commercial, industrial, civic and general economic interests … to encourage, assist and promote the business development of Greater Charlottesville so as to strengthen the economy of the area, reduce unemployment and underemployment, and eliminate poverty…” and other activities to enhance economic vitality.

The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1913, “is dedicated to representing private enterprise, promoting business and enhancing the quality of life in the Greater Charlottesville communities.”  The more than 1,200 Chamber member and affiliated member enterprises employ more than 45,000 men and women in the Greater Charlottesville region, representing an estimated total payroll of more than $1.75 billion a year.

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