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National Expertise Meets Local Insights: An innovative effort to solve Memphis’ employment gap

Working together since 2020, Slingshot and MDRC specialize in using evidence to find solutions to the most difficult social challenges, including the reduction of poverty. MemWorks combines our organizations’ unique skill sets to focus on an area we can help make a significant impact in Memphis: enhancing employment outcomes for those who are experiencing poverty.

“MemWorks represents the next step in Slingshot’s mission to make poverty-fighting more effective. By focusing on an entire area of poverty-fighting (workforce development), we are able to use what we’ve learned studying individual organizations to help our entire community,” says Jared Barnett, CEO of Slingshot.

MDRC is a national organization with extensive expertise in interventions and policies that create pathways out of poverty and improve work and income security. By pairing this extensive national perspective with Slingshot’s deep knowledge of the local poverty-fighting ecosystem, MemWorks will provide previously unavailable insights to inform workforce development policies that address the actual needs of those experiencing poverty.

In addition, MDRC and Slingshot bring a uniquely objective perspective to this effort as they do not have any competing workforce development objectives. MemWorks will be guided by data and lived experiences to identify the challenges and evidence-based solutions.

This innovative approach will not only benefit Memphis, but also serve as a place-based model that can be replicated in other communities across the nation and for other social challenges. Our goal is to dramatically enhance employment outcomes for those experiencing poverty.

John Martinez, Vice President of MDRC said “The ability to leverage the approach that we are taking in Memphis has tremendous implications for how we approach trying to tackle these very real problems in other cities. There is a real opportunity for Memphis to be an exemplar across the country.”

National Expertise Meets Local Insights: An innovative effort to solve Memphis’ employment gap