Advance Together Helps Texas Communities Build a Brighter Economic Future
The COVID-19 crisis underscores the importance of economic resilience—the ability to recover from a disruption. Promoting economic resilience among low- and moderate-income individuals and communities is an ongoing focus of the Dallas Fed’s community development function. And it’s at the heart of a major initiative we began last year, Advance Together™.
Through this new initiative, nine Texas communities are strengthening their ability to build a brighter economic future. Each community is already working at the local level to reduce barriers to economic opportunity. As Advance Together grantees, they will receive guidance and funding to help move their plans forward.
What Is Advance Together?
Advance Together is an accelerator program that uses a model designed by the Dallas Fed’s Community Development team. It supports community partnerships in Texas that are tackling education and workforce challenges. Advance Together helps them use collaborative leadership to achieve their goals by providing training, technical assistance and funding in two phases. Participants for the first phase, which includes an outside grant of $15,000, were selected by an independent selection committee in February.
Over the next few months, we will work with the nine grantees to help them assess their efforts and develop a plan to accelerate their progress. This prepares them to compete for the second phase, which provides a larger grant of up to $300,000 over three years to put their plan into action.
Improving Education and Workforce Readiness
Advance Together is an innovative step for the Dallas Fed and one that’s critically important. In urban, suburban and rural areas of Texas, many people face barriers that make it hard to get ahead financially. Improving their ability to complete education and find living-wage jobs can help them build economic resilience and mobility. This makes a difference not just in their own lives but across the economy.
“At the Dallas Fed, we believe that structural reforms are needed if we are to improve U.S. workforce growth and productivity,” President Rob Kaplan said. “As a nation, we must do more to ensure workers are prepared to enter and stay in the workforce. This means improving educational attainment and skills training. Communities across Texas are working on that, and we’re taking action to support them through Advance Together.”
Collaborating to Strengthen Communities
Structural barriers that limit access to education and jobs are complex and vary by location. Successfully addressing these challenges requires collaboration—community partners from nonprofits, business, education and government working together. To help communities do this effectively and build up a network of collaborative leaders across Texas, the Dallas Fed worked with its own network of partners to create Advance Together.
The Dallas Fed leads the initiative in partnership with Educate Texas and United Ways of Texas. It coordinates the program but does not fundraise, provide grants or participate in the selection of grantees.
A steering committee provides expertise on education and workforce issues and manages the selection of grantees and fundraising. Members include state and national leaders who represent business, education, nonprofits, philanthropy and the public sector.
Funding partners include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and Texas Mutual. All have expressed confidence in Advance Together’s potential to help build a more inclusive economy.
Advance Together grantees represent diverse communities and have different objectives. They share a belief in collaboration, readiness to learn and determination to make a difference.
The work these community partnerships are doing to improve opportunities for all Texans plays a vital role in building a strong economy. That’s something our Advance Together partners and funders all agree on.
- No Limits, No Excuses aims to build the Texas Panhandle workforce and attract new business to the area by increasing the percentage of residents with a quality job credential.
- Denton County Workforce Success Leadership Team works to reduce the percentage of families in Denton County who earn less than family-sustaining wages.
- Big Country Manufacturing Alliance focuses on increasing employment in middle-skill, high-wage manufacturing careers in west central Texas, especially in rural areas.
- Educate Midland & Education Partnership of the Permian Basin seeks to improve educational outcomes for all students in the Permian Basin, starting with at-risk youth.
- Reaching Income Stability with Education aims to increase the percentage of Bell County households earning family-sustaining wages by increasing access to higher-wage jobs through education and support services.
- Family Pathways 2-Gen Coalition helps Austin-area parents improve educational skills and become economically stable while addressing their children’s developmental needs.
- Deep East Texas College and Career Alliance seeks to improve career pathways for low socioeconomic students of color in Deep East Texas through college or industry-based certifications.
- Dual Generation–San Antonio focuses on helping families on San Antonio’s Eastside gain stability and access to opportunities that lead to improved quality of life and self-sufficiency.
- RGV FOCUS works to provide opportunities for students in the Rio Grande Valley to obtain an industry-recognized certification.
We believe Advance Together’s new model of supporting community partnerships can drive progress on economic inclusion. Our nine grantees are leading the way. We look forward to sharing stories of their journey, and we encourage you to learn more about Advance Together by visiting our website.
Investing in Economic Inclusion
Advance Together’s funding partners shared perspectives on the program’s value in promoting a more inclusive economy.
It is more important than ever to focus on ensuring that all families are valued and included in the economic and social fabric of our communities. Advance Together has the potential to offer much-needed stability and social supports that will position families to thrive.
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Advance Together holds tremendous promise to promote social and economic mobility among Texans, as well as to provide a blueprint for generating shared prosperity in cities nationwide. We believe it can result in improved outcomes for people living with low incomes.
The Kresge Foundation
When Texas employers have access to skilled and educated talent, it strengthens our communities and helps businesses thrive. Our collaborative efforts will play a crucial role in expanding educational opportunities for all Texans.
Foster is a communications partner at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
The views expressed here are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas or the Federal Reserve System. The information provided does not constitute an endorsement of any organization or program.