Some summer reading

637_REDF_MediaIcon_blog

Summer reading usually focuses on mysteries, not policy.

But given the stubbornly high unemployment rate and the raging debate over federal spending, you might want to add to this summer’s short list a new publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and The Aspen Institute called “Smart Subsidy for Community Development”. This exploration of the history and current use of subsidy in community development shows how public incentives are being used in smart ways to promote investments in lower-income communities and economic opportunity for lower-income individuals and families.

In addition to a wide variety of useful articles included, I was asked to write a piece on, “Public Subsidy as a Catalyst for Private-Sector Solutions: Creating Job Opportunities for People Who Face Barriers to Employment”.

If you have a chance to check it out, please let me know what you think – are there other policies I did not mention that would help job-creating social enterprise scale? Did I miss something important about social enterprise and job creation?

My conclusion:
“Employment social enterprises, with their locally based, business-oriented innovations, have shown considerable promise in helping low-income populations overcome significant and multiple barriers to employment. While scaling these efforts nationally faces considerable challenges, well-crafted public policies and private initiatives that not only provide the right mix of services and supports but also build a sustainable delivery system can lead to more effective outcomes and more efficient uses of subsidies over the long term.The AbilityOne program can serve as a model for taking employment social enterprises to scale. The Social Innovation Fund grant to support a project that aims to scale social enterprise in California offers an important opportunity to strengthen the data on results while putting thousands more people to work, and bringing together a broader community of practitioners, funders, and evaluators to hone and articulate a widely replicable, sustainable model that delivers results based on evidence-based practice.If private and public funders seize this opportunity to influence developing programs to focus on performance and measure progress against clear objectives, they can incentivize desired outcomes such as long-term private-sector job retention and educational pathways that lead to advancement on the job. They can also prioritize services for specific populations such as young adults or those who have been incarcerated.Well-crafted public policies can address the challenges described above to make the employment social enterprises more effective in helping people succeed at work and become tax-paying, contributing members of society, while reducing the taxpayer costs of poverty, incarceration, and homelessness.
Happy reading!