About the Initiative

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In 2018, the Upjohn Institute launched an initiative to explore how communities can create broadly shared prosperity by helping residents get and keep good jobs. Our initiative brings together two areas of Institute expertise: place-based scholarships that help local residents increase their education, and economic development policies, such as tax incentives and customized business services, that directly target local job creation.

We link strategies that support firms in creating good jobs with strategies that give residents the skills and supports needed to work in those jobs. Our approach focuses on strategies communities can themselves deploy to achieve these ends. While we recognize the importance of federal and state support in helping communities achieve these objectives, we believe locally led efforts are vital in laying the groundwork necessary to create vibrant local economies that benefit everyone.

In this effort, the Institute benefits from growing linkages between its research and operations activities. In addition to the research on employment policies it has conducted for three-quarters of a century, the Institute administers federal and state workforce training programs in a four-county region in Southwest Michigan. We also advise communities in our backyard and throughout the nation on best practices in areas such as economic development, workforce/talent development, and the design of place-based scholarships.

The Institute 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 aims to use what we learn locally to inform other small- to mid-sized cities facing similar challenges.

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