City’s Ready to Work Education and Employment Program Wins Results for America’s Sharman Stein Award for Storytelling Changemakers
Award Honors the Memory of What Works Cities’ Founding Director of Communications
WASHINGTON, DC – Results for America announced today that the City of San Antonio’s Ready to Work team will receive the fifth annual Sharman Stein Award for Storytelling Changemakers. The award, which honors the memory of What Works Cities’ founding Director of Communications Sharman Stein, recognizes a local government team that cultivates trust and collaboration between local government and residents through excellence in communications.
Stein devoted her career to promoting storytelling that drives positive change in local communities. She spent decades working as a journalist for newspapers across the country and later led communications for city agencies and nonprofits in New York City. At What Works Cities, she helped city leaders embrace data and evidence to make better decisions, and encouraged them to engage with residents to solve problems. Stein passed away from ovarian cancer in May 2018.
“Sharman Stein didn’t just love cities. She thrived on them and in them; she made them her vocation. She visited the city hall in every town we traveled to, and cherished access to their inner sanctums: the mayor’s office! But the greatest privilege was the chance to figure out how cities work, and how to make them work better. For her, the careful and caring deployment of data was the means to an end she’d delighted in all her life,” said her husband Skip Sherman.
In 2022, the City of San Antonio launched Ready to Work, designed to help remove financial, social and emotional barriers for qualified adults committed to earning industry-recognized certifications, Associate’s Degrees, or Bachelor’s Degrees. Participants have access to tuition assistance aligned with targeted occupations in high-demand, well-paid careers, support services and emergency assistance to ensure training completion, and job placement and retention services.
“We are thrilled to get national recognition for Ready to Work’s targeted outreach to meet people where they are and to take them to the next level.” Said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “Our intentional employer engagement and our public-facing dashboard allow us to share our successes with the community and hold us accountable to the taxpayers, who overwhelmingly supported Ready to Work.”
The program is rooted in collaboration between businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits, and jobseekers and is made possible by innovative and robust public communication. These efforts include:
- A Ready to Work Employer Pledge and effective employer collaboration utilizing the Talent Pipeline Management process endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation;
- Data-driven marketing and targeted outreach to historically marginalized communities and other areas with high unemployment;
- A central data hub that powers communication across participating organizations. The platform tracks participant information, program outcomes and sends partners real-time feedback about critical issues;
- An online approved course catalog, that lists over 900 subsidized courses offered by over 70 local training providers that are aligned with targeted occupations in high demand; and
- A public dashboard with real-time metrics on applicant interviews, training enrollment, and job placements.
The Ready to Work program aims to enroll 28,000 participants in approved training programs and to place more than 15,600 people in quality jobs. To achieve this, Ready to Work uses the City’s Equity Atlas to gather geographic and demographic data to target populations in need, including women of color, who experience a higher poverty rate. Currently, 63% of participants enrolled in training classes are women. So far, the median earnings of participants who have secured jobs through the program has more than tripled.
“What sets Ready to Work’s communications strategy apart is that it starts with residents and their needs—whether that’s a local business owner, community leader or someone taking the next step in their education or career,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-founder of Results for America. “It’s a collaboration that would have made Sharman proud.”
The annual award is given by Results for America (RFA). RFA’s mission is to make investing in what works the “new normal” so that government decision-makers use evidence and data to maximize their impact and increase economic mobility. The City of San Antonio participates in RFA’s Opportunity Accelerator and has achieved Gold Certification by What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative led by RFA that recognizes cities for their exceptional use of data to inform policy, allocate funding, improve services and engage residents.
Winners of the Sharman Stein Award for Storytelling Changemakers are selected based on their embodiment of the communications philosophy Stein championed; proactively leveraging modes of communication that reach residents with information about their city’s progress; and contributing to improving community trust, understanding, and/or engagement through their efforts. Last year the award was presented to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
About What Works Cities Certification:
The What Works Cities Certification program, launched in 2017 by Bloomberg Philanthropies and led by Results for America, is the first-of-its-kind standard of excellence for data-informed, well-managed local government. What Works Cities Certification recognizes and celebrates local governments for their exceptional use of data to inform policy decisions, allocate funding, improve services, evaluate the effectiveness of programs and engage residents.
About Results for America:
Results for America is helping decision-makers at all levels of government harness evidence and data to make progress on our greatest challenges. Our mission is to make investing in what works the “new normal,” so that when policymakers make decisions, they start by seeking the best evidence and data available, then use what they find to get better results. For more information, visit results4america.org.
Media Contact: Cheryl Burnett, [email protected]