How to Combat Inequality Through Economic Justice Initiatives – Next City

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How to Combat Inequality Through Economic Justice Initiatives

December 16, 2020

NJISJ’s 2017 report, “Bridging the Two Americas,” made clear that many Newark residents were not benefiting the growing prosperity in the city. The report found that Newark residents hold only 18 percent of all jobs in the city – highlighting the need to create programs that link local residents to jobs in the city.  

Through collaboration with the mayor’s office, the city’s anchor institutions, and workforce and economic development partners, NJISJ helped design and develop the “Newark 2020” initiative, which sought to connect 2,020 Newark residents to meaningful, full-time work in the city that pays a living wage by the year 2020.  Launched in June 2017, the initiative has helped link employers to those seeking jobs throughout Newark.  

NJISJ’s partner, Newark Alliance, leads the implementation of Newark 2020, while NJISJ has advocated for a comprehensive package of apprenticeship bills to expand training for residents based on additional research by the Institute.  Since the launch of the initiative, the goal of connecting 2,020 Newark residents to local employment has been met, and 6 out of 10 bills to expand apprenticeship opportunities to traditionally excluded groups have been passed in the New Jersey legislature. 

“Economic inequality in Newark and New Jersey means that prosperity in the city and the state — one of the wealthiest states in the nation with one of the largest racial wealth gaps — is not being shared equally,” says Sullivan. “In order for families to truly thrive and for us to live up to our ideals of equality of economic opportunity, particularly for families of color who have been systematically excluded from prosperity for generations, we must think boldly and creatively about how to rebuild our economic systems to be more inclusive. It is so important that we develop bold initiatives to rework our economic systems, to ensure full participation and security for all.”

Sullivan is the director of economic justice at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, where she leads the Institute’s efforts to promote economic justice and close New Jersey’s racial wealth gap.  Dr. Sullivan, who holds a Ph.D. in Social Policy from Brandeis University, is an experienced policy researcher whose work has been covered by major media outlets.  

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