Promise: Investing in Community

In 2018, the Upjohn Institute launched a three-year initiative to research how communities can create broadly shared prosperity by helping residents get and keep good jobs.

About the Initiative

This initiative brings together Institute expertise on place-based scholarships and local labor market issues, including economic development policies such as tax incentives and customized business services. We take a holistic approach to examining the strategies communities can deploy on both the supply and demand sides of the labor market, and the institutional supports necessary to create vibrant local economies that distribute gains widely.

View the Promise Program Database  View the Incentives and Taxes Database


In this effort, the Institute benefits from growing linkages between its research and operations activities. The Institute administers federal and state workforce training programs in a four-county region in Southwest Michigan and advises communities throughout the nation on best practices in areas such as economic development, talent development, and the design of place-based scholarships.

The Institute also collaborates with the Kalamazoo Promise, the first of the current generation of place-based scholarships, and the City of Kalamazoo, which is engaged in innovative place-based development through the Foundation for Excellence and Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo. The Upjohn Institute works with the city and the Kalamazoo Promise around best practices, data systems, and evaluation, and hopes to use lessons learned locally to inform other small- to mid-sized cities facing similar challenges.


The Promise: Investing in Community initiative releases a report summarizing its work each year:

Investing in Community: A Playbook for Connecting Economic and Skills Development

This second annual summary provides practical advice for community leaders and policymakers around four critical issues: defining local needs, linking job creation and skills development, local leadership, and evaluation.

Building Shared Prosperity

The Promise: Investing in Community initiative marked its first year with a wide-ranging report, Building Shared Prosperity: How Communities Can Create Good Jobs for All, intended to inform grassroots strategies for small and medium-sized cities and rural regions.


The research initiative is led by three co-directors with the support of an internal steering committee and an external policy advisory committee.

Steering Committee

  • Timothy J. Bartik (co-director): Senior Economist
  • Brad J. Hershbein (co-director): Senior Economist and Director of Information and Communication Services
  • Michelle Miller-Adams (co-director): Senior Researcher
  • Lee Adams: Director, Southcentral Michigan Planning Commission
  • Ben Damerow: Director, Employment Management Services Division
  • Kathy Olsen: Project Coordinator
  • Bridget Timmeney: Senior¬†Project¬†Coordinator

Policy Advisory Committee (Biographies)

  • John Austin (Emeritus): Director, Michigan Economic Center
  • John Bebow: President and CEO, Center for Michigan
  • Jeff Chapman: Project Director for Economic Development and State Fiscal Health, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Alex Derkson: Vice President of Global Philanthropy, JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  • Elizabeth Garlow: Impact Investment Officer, Lumina Foundation
  • Gilda Z. Jacobs: President and CEO, Michigan League for Public Policy
  • Christopher T. King: Lecturer and Senior Research Scientist, LBJ School of Public Affairs' Ray Marshall Center
  • Molly Martin: Director, New America Indianapolis
  • Paul Osterman: Nanyang Technological University Professor of Human Resources and Management, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Luke Tate: Assistant Vice President and Executive Director, Opportunity Initiatives, Arizona State University
  • Yolanda Townsend: Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Opportunity@Work
  • Alesha Washington: Senior Program Officer for Community Revitalization and Economic Development, George Gund Foundation