Place‐based initiatives and comprehensive community initiatives are efforts designed to address many issues, e.g. youth development, education, housing, employment, environment, by using a systems‐change perspective and long‐term investments. The federal government has developed several large‐scale place‐based efforts, and numerous foundations are using this approach as well.

Linked to a focus on systems change, moving the needle on economic opportunity and educational attainment in the US requires deliberate, systematic focus on the deconstruction of institutional and structural issues related to equity and race. As importantly, the literature reflects an increasing emphasis on equity as a required component of any successful collective impact strategy. Constructing community interventions and solutions that factor in equity and race are critical to the country’s economic and social re‐stabilization.

CSW has a strong theory of change and model approach for implementing a community‐wide workforce systems change strategy. Our strategies aim to improve work‐related conditions in communities so life is better for the people living in them.

  • Our approach focuses on both place and populations. It has been informed by intensive work in Detroit, funded by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, and Grand Rapids and Battle Creek, funded by the Kellogg Foundation, and it will be fully tested in the large scale, multi‐year, multi‐site project funded by the Walmart Foundation.
  • Systems change is an intentional, fully‐integrated, transformational process through which economic, employment and/or educational outcomes are measurably and sustainably improved within a community, by the community.
  • Early place-based work at CSW focused on state-level transformation, as well as cities and involved developing integrated one-stop center models, workforce boards that could serve as community conveners and leadership tables, and community coalitions that could help shape needed policies, funding, systems, and practices that better serve workers and companies.