Reflections for New Haven

Season 2, Episode 8

Join us for episode 8 as hosts Alexandra Sing, Marisa Berry and Kate Cooney wrap up Season 2 of the CitySCOPE podcast rethinking community engagement and the role of narratives in inclusive economic development. In this episode, we reflect on how the lessons learned from other cities might apply in New Haven, the city where we live! 

We begin by sharing the student research in New Haven and hear from our Inclusive Economic Development Lab SOM summer intern, Bryan Fike, who extended the empirical work done by the students in the Spring Lab.  Inspired by  regional models for education such as the merger of Louisville, Kentucky with surrounding Jefferson County, our first set of calculations examine how New Haven Public School funding could shift under a simple financial equalization model that pools education funding regionally.  In the second set of calculations, following the Louisville, Kentucky example, we built a model for redrawing educational district lines at a regional level to increase racial and economic integration for high school students in the South Central Connecticut region.  Of note in the integration simulation, is that even in a very segregated metropolitan region, the district lines would not have to change much to achieve a more integrated experience for our public school students. In the arena of housing, taking the New Haven City’s Affordable Housing Task Force estimate that 25,000 units of affordable housing are needed to meet regional demand, we sketched out a pathway to 25,000 additional housing units using a mix of the housing policies discussed on the podcast. Finally, inspired by the work of Jerry Rubin at JVS, David Dodson, at MDC, and James Johnson-Piett at Urbane Development, we prepared a preliminary set of workforce intermediary maps in select fields to be built upon by regional actors in the workforce development space. This series of reports is offered as an initial exploration rather than a definitive proscription for action. (see links in the show notes below)

We finish with some final thoughts from our interviews with the Season 2 guests. 

Listen by clicking above, or listen and subscribe on applegooglespotifystitcher, and soundcloud.

Thanks for taking the journey with us this season! We’ll be back Spring 2021 to explore a new theme and share what we learn on CitySCOPE Season 3.

See you then!


1. Storytellers New Haven link here

2. IEDL Spring 2020 Report: Modeling Regional Approaches to Education

3. IEDL Spring 2020 Report: Regional Housing Calculations-Getting to 25,000 Units

4. IEDL Spring 2020 Report: Building a Regional Workforce Development System

Episode Transcript: 

Kate Cooney:

This is CitySCOPE.

Uzma Amin:

A podcast from the Inclusive Economic Development Lab at the Yale School of Management.

Evan Oleson:

Where we learn about what might be possible in our city by talking with others about what is happening in theirs.

Joy Chen:

Are we ready?

Allen Xu:

Let’s go.

MUSIC (K.Dub):

Elm City, what up?

Marissa Berry (00:28):

Hello and welcome to the final episode of CitySCOPE. My name is Marissa Berry, and I’m a student at the Yale School of Management.

Alexandra Sing (00:35):

My name is Alexandra Sing, and I’m also a student at SOM. We’ll be your hosts for this episode, in which we reflect on the Spring 2020 Inclusive Economic Development Lab with a focus on community engagement. Inclusive economic development is a mode of practice and policy development built on the foundational insight that inclusive economic growth requires vision and intention. Bringing IED policy and practice forward is facilitated by regional action, consensus-building, and community engagement.

Marissa Berry (01:07):

This year’s lab explored different models of community engagement through six domains - housing, placemaking, education, civic engagement, workforce development and visioning. The student teams you’ve heard from throughout the season have spent this semester exploring these domains through the lens of New Haven. Guest speakers with expertise across these domains helped us identify best practices. In this episode, we’ll share some of our thinking about how to deploy them for inclusive economic development in New Haven, the city where we live.

Alexandra Sing (01:36):

We participated in this lab in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter in place directives. This crisis has laid bare the incredible amount of inequality in the United States - as we have seen, who is able to shelter in place and work from home and who simply cannot.

Marissa Berry (01:52):

Over the last few decades, cities in the United States have seen a widening income gap and increased physical segregation by socioeconomic status. Will the country’s response to rebuilding our society and economy in the wake of COVID continue on this tract, or is this an opportunity to make our cities a place of opportunity? A famous fact about New Haven is that we are the city in the US that most closely matches the national demographic - in miniature, 130,000 residents in 20 square miles situated about halfway between Boston and New York City. It has seen its share of ups and downs. The early 20th century was a period of prosperity for New Haven as the city had a strong manufacturing sector and attracted many Southern European immigrants in search of the American dream. The city’s population continued to increase through the mid-1900s driven in part by the Great Migration, which saw a wave of African Americans moving northward from Southern states to seek opportunity. However, New Haven’s growth stalled during the 1950s and ’60s. Manufacturing anchors in the city began to slow production, eliminating a large source of employment. It was not until the early 2000s that the city emerged through a pointed effort to capitalize on its widespread cultural assets and the international draw of Yale University. Today, New Haven has the fourth largest economy in Connecticut by jobs, anchored by the twin pillars of Yale University and Yale New Haven Health. The bioscience industry has grown here in recent years with many businesses struggling to find enough lab and office space. The city also has a strong advanced manufacturing sector and before COVID-19 there was an uptick in housing development. New Haven led the state in 2019 with the number of housing permits issued, and there are several hundred multi-family units under construction.

Marissa Berry (03:33):

In recent years, New Haven has also taken on several planning efforts to put forward a vision for its growth, including expanding regional accessibility and enhancing public mixed use spaces. However, New Haven lags the state and much of the country in almost all performance metrics. The city has average job growth rate of 0.5% since 1970. The population of New Haven has stayed the same since 1990 and population projections over the next five years are forecast at 0%. The city’s residents have a higher poverty rate, a lower median household income, and a higher percentage of households cost-burdened relative to statewide averages. Now, as the city is hit by COVID this disparity is thrown in to even starker contrast, and the need to address it has only multiplied.

Alexandra Sing (04:19):

With inclusive economic development, knowing what to do is not enough. A big part of it hinges on engaging with communities to move the work forward, constructing the narratives that mobilize action, and inspiring diverse stakeholders to come together to build solutions for hard, difficult, and tractable challenges. This class concluded with a presentation to the city to share what we’ve learned from the inspiring work happening around the country. To set the context for our recommendations, students began their work by learning more about the city where they live and study. They conducted off the record interviews with community leaders and residents and analyzed stories from the Storytellers New Haven project, a live event that convenes monthly gatherings of attendees to hear the diverse stories that live in the community. As the founders say, “New Haven has 130,000 stories and we want to hear them.” The students listened to the first 13 stories, and here are some of the themes they gathered.

Kate Cooney (05:13):

These are the themes that emerged from the 13 stories that we analyzed in the Storytellers New Haven project. The first one, New Haven is a city that supports each other. It’s full of communities, as Sean Reeves said, that are rich in love and supporting one another. The city of strivers, whether that’s Stacy Spell talking about the history of Newhallville where, as far as you could see, there were factories, men walking home from work with lunch packs. Or Lee Cruz, who told a story about doing whatever it took to get the public school system to respond to him when he found himself misclassified as an ESL student even though he spoke perfect English. City of dreamers - there were a number of stories about New Haveners pausing from one pathway and course-correcting to follow their passion and their dreams and finding a community and a foundation to do that here in New Haven. City of families, both the ones born into, or like Kelly Knight recalled, it was a place to find other mothers who helped her grow up. Or young Eric Clemons quietly taking stock of the older man commuting to work on the train at a time when his father was not in his life. And finally, a city intent on writing its own story. Even in the face of stigma, story by Kia Levey-Burden talking about just feeling the hostility that came along with becoming a young, single mother of color and a desire to push beyond that stigma and learn to love who she is and work for more for the next generation. Here are some very preliminary set of themes from those off the record, one-on-one interviews with community leaders and residents. From the suburbs we found a strong sense of community in a town like Madison, but also a real sense of connection to New Haven and a commitment to New Haven. A city that’s small enough to be friendly, big enough to be interesting. Characters are what make the city what it is. It’s a fabulous microcosm of the US, very diverse and students get to engage with it. It’s a community that turns out and it’s a city where we have some successes that we can build on in times when all the relevant players have come together to optimize solutions.

Alexander Sing (07:39):

So, a big part of our work involves translating the lessons learned from around the country to our context. Marissa, what did we learn that can be applied here in New Haven?

Marissa Berry (07:49):

We looked at efforts in New York City and Louisville, Kentucky to desegregate public education. Louisville was able to make significant strides in desegregation by combining the school systems at the city and county, which allowed them to better distribute resources. These models could inform New Haven’s existing efforts.

Kate Cooney (08:05):

Here’s Arianna reviewing some of the research she did on the New Haven region as a foundation for exploring the potential for a Louisville type regional education model.

Arianna Blanco (08:15):

Connecticut has achievement gaps that are higher than the national average and New Haven has achievement gaps that are higher than the state average. In 2017, 31.4% of New Haven students reached grade level in English and only 20.8% of students reached grade level in math. The average New Haven school ranking is at the bottom 50% of public schools in Connecticut. Minority enrollment is 87% of the student body, which is more than the Connecticut public school average of 46%. Half of New Haven schools are profoundly segregated, meaning that most black and Hispanic students will rarely sit in a classroom that has any white students. For example, Church Street Elementary School has roughly an 80% black or Hispanic student body and Lincoln-Bassett Elementary School has a 95% black or Hispanic student body. And on the other side of the racial imbalance around 85% of all students in Guilford and Madison public schools are white and only 7% of students are low-income. These districts also spend more on K-12 education per pupil, on adult education, payments to governments, private or charter schools than the state average, have some of the highest-rated schools in the area and in the state. They also have a majority of students who consistently perform better than state average in all metrics. Louisville and Jefferson County also have a really interesting regional sharing program that has contributed strongly to school integration. Jefferson County Public Schools are 49% white, 37% black, 14% Latino and remarkably economically diverse. Yet there’s no divide between inner city and suburban schools. The city of Louisville combined its government with Jefferson County’s in 2003 to share tax revenues and resources across the entire metropolitan area so that the prosperity in one part of the county, both directly and indirectly affects parts of the area that are lacking prosperity. The district puts schools in clusters of diverse neighborhoods where parents fill out an application listing their preferences for schools in the cluster, and the district assigns students to certain schools to achieve diversity goals based on this rank preference. Parents can also apply to magnet schools and for special programs such as Spanish language immersion. The system then ranks census blocks on factors including the racial makeup, educational attainment of adults and household income, and mixes up students from various blocks.

Arianna (10:31):

This has led to higher achievement outcomes for low-income students, which has created a better workforce for the metropolitan area. Studies have shown that students who attended these integrated schools in Jefferson County were then better prepared to work with people from different racial or ethnic backgrounds than those who didn’t, creating a better workforce. Integration also reduced white flight from the city to the suburbs, keeping home values and tax revenues stable. What I think is most interesting about this model is the makeup of downtown Louisville and its neighboring suburbs strongly parallels that of New Haven and its suburbs. So this is a model that could work effectively in broader New Haven to integrate schools with positive spillovers into less volatile housing prices and taxes.

Kate Cooney (11:09):

As Arianna shows in her Louisville example, school finance equalization reforms can be promising. Bryan Fike, the Inclusive Economic Development Lab summer intern, took this analysis a step further. He’s joined us today to tell us a little bit about what he found. Hi, Bryan, thanks for coming on.

Bryan Fike (11:29):

Thank you for having me. We wanted to see what it might look like to equalize revenues across all the districts in New Haven County. To do a very simple approach to that, we pooled all of the state and local revenues from the districts in New Haven County and equalized them across all of the students enrolled in each of those districts. A very simple estimate of the pooled funding model would reach a state and local revenue amount of about $20,250 per student. For our New Haven Public Schools, that would represent an increase of about $1,661 per pupil. Overall for New Haven Public Schools across all of its students, that would represent about $35.5 million in additional revenue for the school district.

Kate Cooney (12:18):

An increase of 1,661 per pupil really adds up across 21,000 students, doesn’t it?

Bryan Fike (12:25):

It really does. Interestingly enough, that amount is enough to close the budget deficit that New Haven Public Schools projected for the school year, which is currently about $20 million. It would allow the district to invest in things like school guidance counselors, nurses, special education, and things like that that really matter for educational equity.

Kate Cooney (12:44):

Another interesting thing about the Louisville approach is the way in which they attend to racial integration. What did you learn about how they approach that and tell us about some of the applications of that model for racial integration to the New Haven context that you explored.

Bryan Fike (13:06):

Yeah… the Jefferson County Public Schools student assignment model served as a really nice point of inspiration for us. That student assignment model is based on a methodology created by Gary Orfield from UCLA and Erica Frankenberg from Penn State. What they did is categorize each neighborhood in the school district into one of three categories based on some measures of that neighborhood like the average household income, average educational attainment of adults in the neighborhood, and the racial distribution of residents of those neighborhoods. Using that data, they then attempted to come up with a student assignment plan such that every school in the district would have a roughly equitable distribution of students from each of these three categories of neighborhoods, and that each of the schools in the districts would fall within a certain diversity target range based on those three factors. We wanted to see what that might look like if it were to be followed in New Haven and its surrounding suburbs. Interestingly enough, we found that the 15-town, South Central Connecticut region is roughly the same land area as Jefferson County, Kentucky, so it served as an interesting starting off point. Now for each census tract in the 15-town region in South Central Connecticut, we gathered data on household income, average educational attainment, and the racial distribution of the neighborhood or of the tract from the census bureau and categorized each of those tracts as a category one, category two, or category three, where category one tends to be those tracts with the lowest average household income, the lowest average adult educational attainment, and the highest proportion of residents of color. Whereas the category three is the opposite of all of those.

Bryan Fike (15:02):

After categorizing each of those tracts, we wanted to create student attendance plans such that each of the public, non-magnet high schools in the South Central Connecticut region would be roughly similar in terms of the diversity of the student population. To do this, we used a model where we would attempt to minimize the distance from a student’s neighborhood to the school that they attend while also achieving these diversity targets. We had a minimum of a diversity index that comes from those three factors and a maximum to ensure that each of the schools would be roughly similar in terms of where the students are coming from. After we ran that analysis, we found some interesting things. For the most part, those high schools were able to remain diverse or become diverse if they weren’t diverse already, without major changes to existing school attendance boundaries. For example, in Milford, Jonathan Law High School’s attendance boundaries would be almost unchanged. There are some schools that would require a change to the school attendance boundaries. For example, for Hillhouse High School in New Haven, it would still draw from the nearby Dixwell and Newhallville neighborhoods in New Haven City, but it would also bring in students from the town of Orange to diversify the school a little bit. Similarly in some suburban schools, it would require bringing in some students from New Haven City to diversify those schools, which are largely wealthy and white. For example, some students from Fair Haven might attend North Haven High School or Daniel Hand High School in Madison, whereas the students from The Annex or Fair Haven Heights might attend Guilford High School. Once those changes take effect, we really are able to achieve diverse schools. But it’s important to note that none of this is possible without a really high degree of regional cooperation. It really does take the involvement of everyone in the region to achieve diverse schools if that’s what we want to do.

Kate Cooney (16:55):

Thanks, Bryan, that’s really interesting. One of the things I found so compelling is that even though we have pretty highly segregated by race schools, it actually doesn’t take that much redrawing of the boundaries to achieve a much more integrated experience for our students. Did you just look at high schools?

Bryan Fike (17:15):

For this analysis we only looked at the high schools as a starting point.

Kate Cooney (17:18):

If you’d like to look more closely at the methods and findings you can go to our website at Bryan, let’s talk about a second area where you did some additional empirical work this summer. You and I also focused on two other empirical extensions of the work that the students in the spring lab did, one in the area of housing and the other in the area of workforce development. Let’s turn next to housing. First we’ll hear from Charlie and Joy about their preliminary analysis that they did in the spring lab and then you and I will come back and talk about how you extended their work further.

Bryan Fike (18:00):

That sounds good.

Charlie Gress (18:01):

We turned to the case directly of New Haven. Some of these findings were laid out in the January, 2019 affordable housing task force report, so we’ll go through these very quickly. But to set the context, over 40% of the city households are considered housing-burdened. Really one of the taskforce’s key conclusions is that an additional 25,000 affordable units are needed. This analysis was really first inspired by Karen DuBois-Walton, who said, “There’s a lot of discussion around this fair share in the 15-town region. There’s a relative lack in certain areas, certain resistance to it, across the 15-town region. But how much does it move the needle if we bring everyone up to 10%? We have three towns, Meriden, New Haven, and West Haven who are already above the 10% affordable unit threshold. If we hold them constant and bring each of the other 12 towns up to 10%, how many additional affordable units do we gain?” The answer to that in our preliminary analysis was just over 7,600, which raises the question, so where do we get the rest to get the 25,000? What else can be done? And we talked about the notion of inclusionary zoning. Now, connecting it to some of the earlier themes that Joy discussed with respect to neighborhood defenders, we consider that anti-development forces in New Haven are sometimes communities that are really concerned about gentrification. One response to this current concern and the new building being very much market rate is putting into place inclusionary zoning, or an IZ policy to set aside a percentage of new housing to make them affordable. This slide models the income distribution in the city from 2017 census data and really outlines this method propagated by [Alain] Bertaud from MIT who recommends running housing policies for a model that takes income distribution into account. The approach highlights that if you allocate a percentage of market rate housing for the higher income side of the income distribution, which you see here on the slide makes up a relatively smaller percentage of the population in New Haven, you will, by design, not create enough housing for the need at the lower income side of the distribution. Again, the distribution which is a larger indication of the city of New Haven. Ultimately we see that inclusionary zoning really requires an underlying understanding of the income distribution and that with some back of the envelope preliminary analysis based on New Haven independent reporting that nearly 3,600 new market rate units were coming online or significantly under construction in 2019, if we just imagine that 15% of that number become additional affordable units, that comes to about 540. We’re less than a third of the way there to that 25,000 number. So I’m going to turn it back over to Joy to bring up some recommendations to unlock the ability for more development.

Joy Chen (20:35):

We have a few recommendations to increase the supply of affordable housing. They fall primarily into two buckets. The first is reducing resistance to development, and this can be done through simplifying the zoning code, espousing a more inclusive public participation process, considering the use of tilts and trends-oriented development programs. And the second is tying market rate development to affordable development, and this is through adopting an annual binding and comprehensive planning process that features a zoning budget. An idea of interest to the city may be what Minneapolis did with creating a zoning shock that completely banned single-family zoning. California has also been thinking about this with their recent Senate bill. It could just be something to consider for the city as it reflects on the different narratives that are pushed forward by residents.

Kate Cooney (21:15):

Bryan, this summer you picked up where Charlie and Joy left off. As an exercise we kept that target identified by the affordable housing task force in New Haven of 25,000 new units needed as a goalpost. Your guiding question was, “What would it take? How do we get to 25,000? How do we use some of the different strategies talked about through our interviews on this season of the podcast to get to 25,000?” What did you find?

Bryan Fike (21:44):

Yeah, as we heard from Charlie and Joy, even if each of the surrounding towns in the greater New Haven area achieves that 10% fair share of affordable housing, as well as adopting inclusionary zoning in the city of New Haven, there’s still a significant gap of nearly 17,000 units if we’re trying to reach 25,000 new units of affordable housing. In addition to the 10% inclusionary fair share and inclusionary zoning in the city of New Haven, there are a number of other policy proposals for affordable housing. Among those are rezoning single-family lots as has been done in Minneapolis and in Oregon, such that they could be developed into that missing middle housing, like duplexes, triplexes, or in some cases fourplexes without even going to a zoning board. So those would be allowed by right. There are also initiatives like allowing for accessory dwelling units.

Alexandra Sing (22:37):

Do you mean granny flats? Turning those cute garages many of us have into rental properties? We tried to convince my in-laws to move into our garage. They did consider it, but ultimately decided on a lovely retirement community with a townhouse style unit and loads of amenities that we ultimately couldn’t compete with. But I’ve always liked the idea of these ADUs.

Bryan Fike (23:00):

Yeah, it would be things like granny flats or an extra unit somewhere inside the existing housing structure. What a lot of people find attractive about ADUs is that they add housing density without really transforming the fabric or the aesthetics of the neighborhood in a way that transforming single-family buildings into triplexes or four units might do.

Kate Cooney (23:23):

You took a look at the zoning for the 15 towns in the region and you came up with an estimate of how much of the 15 towns are zoned for single-family versus other types of lots. What did you find? What’s the range?

Bryan Fike (23:37):

We pulled from some research that Robert Ellickson at Yale Law School has done, and he looked at the 15-town South Central Connecticut region to understand what are the current zoning requirements for the suburbs of New Haven. What he found is that in the suburban areas of the South Central Connecticut region, nearly 75% of residentially-zoned land is limited to single-family houses on at least one acre of property. He also found that less than 2% of land zoned for residential use allows for the construction of multi-family housing at a density of eight units or more per acre, which is really troubling if we want to achieve higher density and more affordable housing in those suburbs of high opportunity.

Kate Cooney (24:23):

But there is still a variance by municipalities. As I recall, you found a place like Bethany, almost 95% of the lots are zoning for single-family units, whereas at the lower end place like West Haven or Meriden it’s closer to 53%.

Bryan Fike (24:45):

Yeah, that’s right. What we wanted to look at is what might happen if we were to do something with all of those single-family homes in the region. Through the research we found that an approach like that is really necessary if we want to achieve 25,000 new units. There are limits to what can be done strictly within the city boundaries. To look at a potential densification scenario, we drew inspiration from Oregon and from Minneapolis. In Oregon, House Bill 2001 upzoned cities depending on their size. For towns of at least 10,000 people, lots currently zoned for single-family housing would now allow duplexes by right, and towns of 25,000 or more residents would allow up to a fourplex by right. To look at what this might achieve in the New Haven suburbs, we assumed that in towns of 10,000 residents or more, about seven and a half percent of existing single-family homes would convert to either a duplex, a triplex, or a fourplex. For towns with populations of 10,000, but less than 25,000, we assumed that seven and a half percent would convert to duplex. In those larger towns with a population of greater than 25,000, we assumed that still seven and a half percent of existing single-family homes would convert. But those conversions would be evenly distributed among duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes. In a scenario like that, we found that the region could add about 16,000 new units across all of the 14 suburban towns in South Central Connecticut. If that were to happen, it would reduce the share of total units that are currently single-family units by about 7 to 12 percentage points in each of the towns. But even after a conversion, in all of the towns except for West Haven and Meriden, which already have relatively high shares of multi-family units, more than half of the total housing stock would still be in the form of single-family units.

Kate Cooney (26:45):

Right, and in places like Guilford, Madison, North Branford, you’re still seeing upwards of 70, 80% remaining single-family under this scenario.

Bryan Fike (26:59):

That’s right. A lot of the arguments against upzoning the suburbs or areas that are zoned for single-family units is that doing so would fundamentally change the character of the neighborhood. I hope what we can show with this analysis is that it’s still possible to densify and upzone those neighborhoods and create more units of housing and expand the housing supply without fundamentally changing the character of those neighborhoods. Those towns would still have really, really high shares of single-family units.

Kate Cooney (27:30):

Okay. We have an additional 16,000 or so units. How far are we now from the 25,000 goalpost?

Bryan Fike (27:38):

Yeah, so with an additional 16,000 new units and about 1,800 units over five years from 10% inclusionary zoning, we still have a ways to go to reach 25,000 units. There are still a couple of other strategies that the city and the region could pursue.

Kate Cooney (27:57):

What were a couple of other places where you found possibilities for additional units?

Bryan Fike (28:04):

Yeah. Some of the strategies would require regional approaches and then there are still things that can be done within the city of New Haven. One thing that we looked at within New Haven City is densifying existing single-family homes in neighborhoods zoned exclusively for single-family. This is, again, what happened in Minneapolis and in Oregon with their upzoning bills. What we found is that if single-family zones were to be upzoned to allow for a triplex and say 10% of the existing single-family homes converted, that would add about 1,100 new units. Again, that assumes that of the about 5,400 existing single-family homes and neighborhoods zoned for single-family convert up to a triplex.

Kate Cooney (28:53):

And what about those granny flats?

Bryan Fike (28:55):

Yeah. For accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, or granny flats, a member of the New Haven City Plan Commission quoted to the New Haven Independent that if ADUs were to be allowed in the city, they might increase the housing stock by about 200 units a year. Let’s say over five years, that might create about 1,000 units of additional housing.

Kate Cooney (29:17):

So we should emphasize that what we’re talking about in this rough, back of the envelope estimate, which, again, you can look at this work more closely on the Inclusive Economic Development Lab website, We do point out that we’re largely talking about increasing supply and it doesn’t necessarily follow that all of this new supply will be in the affordable category although more supply can also create downward pressure on housing prices.

Bryan Fike (29:49):

Yeah, that’s right. I think there would still need to be a lot of intentional efforts from New Haven City and from the surrounding area to make sure that there are sufficient affordable units available not just units overall.

Kate Cooney (30:02):

Finally, we took a deeper dive into the workforce development learnings from the podcast and the spring lab and considered the lessons for New Haven. First, Norbert will discuss some of the concrete takeaways his team took from the interviews they did and the research they did for the Spring Inclusive Economic Development Lab, and then Bryan and I will talk a little more about some of the work we did to extend their analysis.

Norbert Cichon (30:29):

Another crucial element is to focus on developing training programs with long-term employee flexibility in mind. What we mean here is the creation of talent development that doesn’t tether the employee to any one employer or any one job going forward to where, if that employer moves or the nature of that job changes then that skillset becomes completely obsolete. And so how do we do this? We think that the workforce training needs to begin at the academic level with a wide breadth of apprenticeship and experiential opportunities. Made in Durham is one of the models where we think that’s been done extremely well. They focus a lot on connecting the career tech education to real world experiences. Here locally, the city has moved to a career academy model. How many of these academies really have a strong structure connection to the regional employers to identify and train? Not only those individuals already in the labor force and actively seeking employment, but also reach a few layers lower and focus on the local youth at the secondary and tertiary academic level who are seeking apprenticeship to get the work experience opportunities. We think that the options here is that we can create a workforce pipeline not just for today but for the future and we can bring in the next generation of local employees and train, develop them in a way that should dovetail both with the city’s existing sectoral stress as well as the direction which we believe that the future work is going.

Kate Cooney (31:58):

The team saw an opportunity in New Haven to build on the architecture New Haven already has in place with their career academy model at a handful of the city high schools, but recommends creating much more robust education-work linkages from all the high schools and for each of the career academies. Secondly, they picked up on David Dodson from Made in Durham’s point that while young people can really benefit from connections to work experience with regional employers early on, so can employers. Employers might be more willing to take a chance on a non-traditional candidate if they have many more experiences and exposure to the young people in the community, which will provide a clearer picture of the kind of talent available that often gets overlooked.

Kate Cooney (32:46):

Bryan, here our work this summer was less empirical than in the other two arenas and more conceptual. Just to set the stage here, when we say inclusive economic development, what we’re talking about is reaching communities that are cut off in segregated neighborhoods and schools, and for whom housing mobility is very constrained. It’s constrained by historic racialized housing policy explicitly restricting black people from certain neighborhoods, and in more recent decades by zoning and income constraints. Even within the city, neighborhood to neighborhood, there are histories of housing covenants on property as well as the selective siting of affordable housing. It’s this lack of connectedness at the neighborhood and school level that any kind of inclusive economic development approach to workforce development must contend with. In addition to the many lessons we took from Jerry Rubin at JBS and David Dodson from MDC, we were inspired also by an interview with James Johnson-Piett from Urbane Development who laid out what a program could look like at the neighborhood level to really bring pertinent information about labor market opportunities to a community without a lot of their own network connections into these jobs.

James Johnson-Piett (34:05):

We’ve been focusing on the Bedford-Stuyvesant community and we’ve been working in three public housing complexes for the last five years. We just finished a project on workforce development. The city had asked us because of the other work we’d done, “Hey, we have these HUD programs called Job Plus. We want to really figure out how we can get community residents to act, take advantage of the programs, they’re not doing it. What’s the problem? How would you rethink this?” There was some leftover Amazon money because of the HQ2 debacle, and so there was a whole bunch of money set aside for workforce development that never took place, obviously. We ended up getting a micro grant to test out some ideas around how to get public housing residents tied into tech pathways. We’re not experts in technology, but what we did have was lots of relationships with other technologists and companies who were focusing on tech. We had had four years of experience working with public housing residents so it was like, “Okay, how can we bring these two things together?” Some of it was simply place. We knew where to host the work. We said, “Hey, look, we value your time. We’re not going to sit down and ask you to show up three hours a pop for three different sessions, not pay you.” They got paid for their time. We are going to say very clearly, “This is what you’re going to get out of this. We’re not going to promise you anything, but these are the things we’re trying to accomplish. Would you be open to taking this on?”

James Johnson-Piett (35:24):

Frankly, we had trusted partners who were on the ground and could co-sign our efforts. We figured between all those things, we would get a certain level of engagement. Target was workshops; so we were trying to get really no more than 20 folks in a room, because it was going to get unwieldy. We ended up getting 35 the first session, 45 the second session, and 50 the third session. We had to work on the fly and kind of break things up. The methodology around it was demystifying technology. We’re not going to assume anything. We’re not going to assume what you know or don’t know about tech. We’re going to talk about what the tech pipelines look like around jobs, the difference between a more traditional coding job, product manager, data scientist, etc., and not assume what you can or can’t do. But here’s the opportunity points that typically tech companies are looking for for entry level. Here are some of the connective organizations that do sort of the rapid training around bootcamping or other things that are in your community. Here’s the other vast set of non-technical tech jobs that, it’s really more about soft skills or it’s about frankly being able to do things that you already know how to do just relating within a tech context. A lot was just giving people information that they may not already had and getting them in a place where they felt comfortable with peers. Those were lessons that we learned years ago that it was very much about how can we utilize place as a mechanism to garner trust, because ultimately you see the same faces. One thing that is super important in our work is repetition. You want to be able to repeat. If you can repeat actions and repeat face time people start to get to know you really in a tacit way.

Kate Cooney (36:59):

Bryan, a key recommendation that you worked on was for the region to consider first where the job opportunities are with regional employers in growth parts of industry clusters, and to map out the intermediaries working in the space that are providing skills and credentialing into those firms. But crucially to James’ point, to think very specifically about a community engagement model, to bring that information to the neighborhoods in an effective way.

Bryan Fike (37:29):

That’s right. On the IEDL websites, in addition to reports on education and housing that we’ve discussed, you can see some very preliminary mapping of the landscape for entrance into jobs and to industry clusters like advanced manufacturing, biotech, and healthcare. It’s, of course, a very preliminary mapping, but it’s available for local actors working in this space to refine, correct, and build upon should it be useful for their efforts in the workforce development arena.

Kate Cooney (37:59):

Thanks so much for joining us today, Bryan, and for all the work you did over the summer.

Bryan Fike (38:03):

Thank you for having me.

Marissa Berry (38:04):

As we conclude, Professor Cooney will join us to talk about some key themes that emerged from our interviews about how community engagement is an important component in inclusive economic development.

Kate Cooney (38:13):

One of the things that we have focused on this season is the importance of narrative. For some of our guests, this work involved problematizing the narratives surrounding the efforts they were involved in and confronting them as incorrect. Here’s Sarah Camiscoli from IntegrateNYC.

Sarah Camiscoli (38:31):

Right around the time that the UCLA report came out that said New York State had the most segregated schools in the country, that report was and is monumental to our work and also uses terms like damaged futures on the cover of the report and uses terms like ghetto in the actual report. Our students found that very, very offensive. One of the main things we can miss is the means by which universities, media, folks who have access to the upper echelons of education can have their distaste for folks of color or their distaste for low-income communities, or their lack of exposure, have a narrative or a conversation that is degrading and not celebratory of these communities, of these people. For example, I can’t imagine myself referring to the school community where I worked as the ghetto. I refer to it as the place where my mother grew up and a community that transformed my understanding of education, and access, and activism. But to someone for whom identities are not shared, or experience is not shared, or commitment is not shared, or relationships, deep relationships, of love and trust and mutuality is not shared, that community can be seen as a ghetto. The people who built Integrate with me can be seen as people who have damaged futures. Really thinking about how are we talking about these communities? That’s just very important to me.

Kate Cooney (40:09):

The cultural aspect to this work needs its own strategy. It’s not incidental or ancillary. Prabal Chakrabarti from the Boston Fed talks about intentionally replacing an unproductive narrative with one that can mobilize investment and effort.

Prabal Chakrabarti (40:26):

Thinking about the role of narratives, one of the narratives that holds a lot of small and medium-sized cities back is this narrative that we’re going to go back to some period of time when some of the current residents were children, and the way the city looked, and how it operated, and who lived there. That the goal is to get back to that imagined or maybe real time, but it’s that role of nostalgia. I think that can be counter-productive. I think that a narrative around what the city can be in its future, a more diverse city, maybe one that is a center for different cultures and builds upon those cultural assets, I think is a different kind of narrative. And that narrative needs to be constructed very carefully because you still need all of your residents. Here we might be talking about the white residents of the community, but also the African American residents of the community that have lived there for many generations and seen new waves of immigrants and groups. That’s hard, but I think that some of our cities are doing better than others in constructing that new narrative and being inclusive. How you tell those stories and who is the one telling those stories, I think is incredibly important.

Alexandra Sing (41:46):

In our interviews, we heard a recurring theme that part of what’s at stake in the current era of dramatic wealth inequality is not just that large numbers of city residents cannot find opportunity, but also that the city is missing out on valuable talent. Kirsten Delegard of Mapping Prejudice.

Kirsten Delagard (42:02):

As a historian in Minneapolis I keep reading these stories about black people who left Minneapolis because they felt that there was no place for them here. Everyone from Marvel Cooke Jackson, who went on to become a national civil rights leader, who spent her childhood here in Minneapolis, and when she was 18 she said, “There was no place for me in Minneapolis.” To Gordon Parks, of course, who went on to become an international superstar, who spent his young adulthood here in Minneapolis, to Roy Wilkins. Minneapolis and St. Paul have given the world so many great leaders. I just wish that they had felt that they could stay home instead of having to leave in order to realize their full potential.

Marissa Berry (42:43):

We also kept coming back to the question of community engagement for what? Why are you engaging the community? Is it simply to check it off the list or are you trying to co-create through it? Part of what makes community engagement successful is leaving the room for flexibility and responding to the people being engaged. Here’s Kevin Ehrman-Solberg also for Mapping Prejudice.

Kevin Ehrman-Solberg (43:04):

Being receptive and able to iterate on the initial idealized research model in response to stated community need, that really engendered the buy-in, made people want to participate, made people want to take some ownership, made people want to stake some claim in the work that we’re doing. By building that network, I think that’s how this work continues to live on even once the initial mapping process is done.

Marissa Berry (43:31):

Another big takeaway for me was the process of community engagement itself is so important and thoughtfully engaging the public can engender trust and better relationships.

Kate Cooney (43:40):

This is a point Eric Gordon emphasized. In fact, he encourages cities to consider networks and community connectedness as an important outcome to be tracked, measured, and supported.

Eric Gordon (43:52):

Often, the result of doing this work well is actually establishing a strong social infrastructure so that other work can build on it. But if you don’t invest in that incrementally within every project, then you’re going to have a series of transactions and you’re going to start from zero every single time. It’s really important to actually try to reshape the stated outcomes such that the structuring of strong social infrastructure is in fact a goal of the project.

Alexandra Sing (44:24):

I really like that idea because it speaks to the emphasis on process and the intentionality with which you build trusting relationships over time.

Kate Cooney (44:31):

James Johnson-Piett from Urbane Development has an internal metric he uses as an indicator for this aspect of the work.

James Johnson-Piett (44:38):

There’s sort of a meridian line I look to get. If I go into a bodega or something like that, when I get offered something free I know I’ve broken through a certain sort of trust mechanism. Usually, at this point I’ve been doing it so long I can probably something free like the first meeting because I’ve explained why I’m there or why it makes sense to work with us. For my younger staff I’m always like, “Look, you’re not trying to get free stuff per se, but there’s going to be certain trigger points for people where they feel comfortable.”

Alexandra Sing (45:06):

The COVID 19 pandemic is a troubling reminder of the stark disparities within cities and underscores the importance of cross-sector alliances to address the most pressing needs.

Marissa Berry (45:16):

During our conversation with Prabal Chakrabarti of the Boston Fed, we asked him what they learned about how the sectors can work best together.

Prabal Chakrabarti (45:24):

We knew there’d be some division of labor. I think as it evolved we learned more about the types of cross-sector partnerships and the governance of those partnerships, and how they work. Of course the community needs to put this together themselves, but with input from us about what we’ve seen work and not work. To give some examples, we found that it is actually very difficult when you think about a collective impact style effort, and really working cities is in the same vein as the collective impact literature. You do need a backbone. You need someone to wake up every day thinking about this work. You need an initiative director and so we require that in our rounds. We have found that cities’ municipalities are not good backbones in general. They have too many interests that are in general shorter term and the accountability works differently. We found that community organizations and CDCs make particularly good backbones. The private sector - we did have the chamber of commerce in some places be the lead. But in general, the private sector is to be tapped for specific pieces and don’t want to be involved in day-to-day governance of the effort. Keeping the private sector engaged productively has been something we’ve learned. Frankly, it’s still a challenge in a lot of our teams to keep that. The other piece about the private sector is, look, you’re not going to start by just saying, “Oh, well, who’s the biggest employer? Let’s focus on that person.” I mean, you need to think about who wants to be there. Who’s the CEO that wants to be there, and start with those people. I think that’s what the cities did. They found the manufacturing company in Lawrence that hired Spanish speakers and had a dual language line. They found the person who was starting up a company called 99 Degrees Custom textile company. It started with four people, now they have like 140 people. They wanted to do this and be part of it. Then you’ve got the business community, but you’re not going down the list of the top five necessarily. You’re going with who wants to be there.

Alexandra Sing (47:28):

Despite the current situation, we are encouraged by the incredible work of our guests and hope this will be a time of reflection and reimagining the possibilities of inclusive economic development.

Marissa Berry (47:39):

As we close out, we’ll leave you with some final thoughts from our guests about where this work can lead and what we’re all aiming for.

Kate Cooney (47:45):

Here’s Sarah Camiscoli from IntegrateNYC.

Sarah Camiscoli (47:49):

Currently on the board I co-chair with a young person named Elijah Fox. He was one of the young people who also helped really build this organization from the ground up. Last week I missed a call with Elijah because he’s helping to found a tenant’s union in Ithaca. I mean, this is, for us, what the work is. I get moved talking about this because I don’t really care if Elijah goes and integrates a school in 10 years. What I care about is Elijah is living in a community as a college student, he’s seeing the dignity of other people are not properly honored. He’s getting that his access to higher education at Cornell does not make him better or more legitimate than the people around him, and he’s actively using the skillsets we’ve thought about, about not just building integrated schools in a segregated world, but shifting and creating an integrated world. That for us is what’s most important. That’s another way in which I see our work supporting young people to build that positive youth development and to say, “I’m going to use my education to take the experiences that are most clear and valuable to me, and the strengths that I have to meet a need in the world and to use those skillsets.” That’s really, I just think, such a key element of this.

Kate Cooney (49:02):

At a time when we’re all thinking about George Floyd and his family and the cities that shaped his life and his death, we’ll finish with a quote from Kirsten Delegard from Mapping Prejudice in Minneapolis. We asked Kirsten the question we’ve been asking in our local New Haven interviews, if you could flash forward 20 to 25 years, what are your hopes for that future version of your city?

Kirsten Delagard (49:24):

I would like for my children to be raising their children in a city where race is not the number one determinant of your life trajectory, which it is now. I would like my grandchildren to be living in a city where, I mean, it sounds very trite to say that everyone feels welcome. I think it’s more than that. It’s that everyone has what they need to thrive, what they need to provide their lives with meaning and with stability and to meet their material needs. We are so far from that right now on every indicator, in terms of education, in terms of health, in terms of employment, that it will take a generation.

Alexandra Sing (50:13):

Thank you for listening, and we hope you enjoyed the series.

Marissa Berry (50:17):

Join us next year when we explore another topic in the Inclusive Economic Development Lab and share what we learned with you on the third season of the CitySCOPE podcast.

Kate Cooney (50:27):

See you then.


Alexandra Sing:

This podcast was recorded in our homes on Zencastr.

Stephen Henriques:

Created by Kate Cooney and the students of the spring 2020 Inclusive Economic Development Lab class.

Marisa Berry:

All engineering and projection by Ryan McEvoy and Kate Cooney.

Joy Chen:

Special thanks to Rhona Ceppos for administration support and to [Giana Montez 00:39:57] for assistance with Zoom.

Charles Gress:

Music from the album Elm City Trees composed and performed by the artist K Dub. For more information and show notes, visit our website at

Arianna Blanco:

Thank you for listening.

Music (K.Dub):

Look, I’m from a city that’s half pretty and half gritty. Ain’t too many cities rocking with the Elm City. Home of the blazers. Those were the days. When I played, all these fast breaks. We don’t need plays. We play on Sundays like we don’t need praise. We pressing all game like we don’t breaks. Look, no debate. Best team in the state. We flow like the Lakers back in ‘88. I learned to play crazy eights in the city that raised the kid that want to big. Like I want to be big. I really hate the way rap’s portrayed. I want to the kids in the Elm to see a different way. Because way back I knew that I would get some pay. Every day in the mirror trying to get some waves. I ain’t trying to push weight. I want to own estates. Putting on the state on my license plate. Elm City. All I need is some Elm City trees. Avoided the trap, now you know where I be at. Everywhere I go, I rep that 203. Yeah, I love my city, but I had to leave. All I need is some Elm City trees. Avoided the trap, now you know where I be at. Everywhere I go, I rep that 203. Yeah, I love my city, but I had to leave.