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Boosting employment through agency collaboration

Area organizations are meeting to discuss how to better help people experiencing unemployment because of obstacles such as homelessness, lack of opportunities and previous incarceration. 

A March 20 forum with about 30 non-profit and government agencies met to understand the breadth of each other’s scope of work, areas for potential collaboration, opportunities for referrals and resource-sharing.

The convening was the first in a series that will address issues such as housing, employment, homeownership and restorative justice.

The Primavera Foundation, Pima County and Old Pueblo Community Services organized the two-hour forum on workforce development, in part to work collectively to find solutions to unemployment 

“I want you to walk away knowing what everyone else is doing,” said Primavera Foundation CEO Tisha Tallman.

The meeting, held at the Pima County Kino Service Center on Ajo Way, addressed a variety of issues connected to employment, such as housing and having rights restored. 

“One of the most unused resources we have is the resources we have,” said Tom Litwicki, CEO of Old Pueblo Community Services and an advocate for people facing housing insecurity and homelessness.

Karen Caldwell, director of Primavera Works, spoke about the staffing service for temporary work that has been a part of the Primavera Foundation since 1996. Primavera Works also offers participants support to find permanent employment.

Caldwell said the program recently increased pay for its participants to a livable wage of $16.50 per hour, up from Arizona's minimum wage of $13.85 per hour.

Participants in workforce programs are often trying to overcome employment barriers such as homelessness, substance use, lack of educational opportunities and incarceration records to rejoin the workforce.

Other convenings are being planned, with the next workforce development forum slated for September. 

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