Opening Doors to Economic Opportunity

August 2014 ENGAGE Magazine

In this edition, we're looking at strategies to increase financial literacy, job readiness and economic opportunity for Arkansans.

View the full edition online or download a PDF.

Stories Inside:

Mountain Home's Collaborative Approach to Workforce Development
Mountain Home is taking a proactive approach to workforce development, with programs like the new “Ready2Work” collaborative, a partnership between ASU Mountain Home, the North Central Arkansas Food Bank and local human resources professionals. It’s premised on the idea that the cycle of intergenerational poverty can be broken by teaching people the soft skills and planning techniques they need in order to move into a living wage job and work their way up from there.

Financial Literacy Starts with Taking the EEEK! Out of Economics
Thanks to the persistence of Economics Arkansas (EA), a nonprofit organization that promotes K-12 economic literacy, Arkansas became the 21st state to require a course in economics for graduation in 2009. “Economics is part of our everyday lives from the moment we wake up in the morning,” said Sue Owens, EA’s executive director. Economics has been called “the science of decision-making,” so it is critical students understand the impact of their decisions, as their choices will determine their future.

3 Steps to Improving Financial Security and Economic Opportunity
Guest Column by Darrin Williams, CEO of Southern Bancorp Growing up in America, we’ve been taught that nothing is out of grasp for those willing to work hard. It’s the American Dream. However, reality isn’t always so simple. Many Americans, specifically those in rural areas, work especially hard, yet never seem to crest the hill of financial security. Economic stability doesn’t come overnight, but when you couple hard work with a few simple steps, the chances of achieving it go up significantly. 

Knowledge Is the Most Important Thing
Delta Circles participants learn about budgeting and the hidden rules of economic class, and gain job readiness skills to get better economic opportunities. Not all their work is about finances; they talk about social and psychological forces as well. “These ladies were already motivated to make changes. But I got to see some ‘aha’ moments where they realized that they have the power to control the way they speak, dress and make judgments,” said Executive Director Patricia Ashanti. “I am impressed with the students’ honesty and willingness to do the hard work to change their lives.”

Arkansas Viewpoints: What economic barriers prevent Arkansans from raising their families out of poverty?
Ines Polonius, executive director of alt.Consulting Inc., and Grant Tennille, director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, share their viewpoints on how to overcome the economic barriers that perpetuate poverty in Arkansas.

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