Unique partnership to create workforce development program for Memphians impacted by justice system

What’s happening: The Greater Memphis Chamber begins the new year with the announcement of another workforce development program, building on several such announcements made in 2023. The latest stands to improve career opportunities for those Memphians who often face the most difficult odds in landing high quality careers: people impacted by the justice system.

What it is: Memphis is one of just nine communities selected to join the Equitable Credential Attainment Cohort by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), that organization’s national initiative to create new opportunities for people of color to earn industry credentials and degrees. Each community’s program partners include a chamber of commerce, a community college, and an organization “that directly represents the community,” per a release. In Memphis’ case, that includes the Chamber, the Shelby County Office of Re-Entry, TCAT-Memphis, and Southwest Tennessee Community College.

Who’s eligible: The workforce development program will be available to Memphians convicted, incarcerated, detained, or otherwise affected by the justice system.

Why it’s important: “Our goal is to make Greater Memphis a place where anyone can secure a high-quality job, lead a productive life, and provide for their family,” says Ted Townsend, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “Memphis already has more jobs today than at any time before the pandemic and is one of the fastest-growing job markets in the nation thanks to our robust pipeline of economic development projects. This program will accelerate and amplify this region’s work to create more pathways to prosperity for all, and especially for people who are looking for a second chance.”

How they’ll do it: The program will start with the Memphis partnership identifying those barriers to credential attainment for high-quality skilled careers before creating “quick-win solutions” to address current challenges. The partners will then work with the teams from eight communities located throughout the country, where they’ll learn from national subject matter experts, receive customized technical assistance, and work with each other to create a strategy for longer-term collaboration.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.