By DIANE XAVIER
The Dallas Examiner
When it comes to financial security and economic progress, Dallas ranks last on the list for major cities in the state of Texas, according to Dallas Assets and Opportunity Profile, the latest study conducted by the Communities Foundation of Texas and Prosperity Now.
The report found a large population of residents experiencing financial insecurity, higher levels of asset poverty, subprime credit and the economic conditions between households of color that were remarkable despite the slight economic improvement in North Texas since the 2012 study.
In an effort to help Dallas and North Texas move forward, the T.D. Jakes Foundation launched the Pathway program powered through a smartphone app, Aug. 17. The program was created to help people achieve self-sufficiency, find a living-wage job and career success.
The app is a 365 days-a-year platform, where people can find jobs that are uploaded constantly and where recruiters can find talent of all levels, explained Hattie Hill, president and CEO of the T.D. Jakes Foundation.
“The Pathway app will be assisting candidates in finding jobs year-round,” Hill said. “So it started in January 2020, right in the midst of the pandemic, and beginning of the pandemic. Our focus is really, we have a vision which is to uplift communities, and we have three strategic pillars, looking at community building, corporate partnerships and workforce readiness. So our total focus is on how to make communities better.”
Bishop T.D. Jakes, chairman of the foundation and board, founded the global nonprofit organization to provide science, technology, engineering, arts and math education and workforce readiness training. The app is designed to help streamline the process.
“Bishop Jakes, who’s here in Dallas, is using his platform to really focus on the most needed communities and really provide them with the skills, living wage jobs, affordable housing, the things that will help to take the community from one stage to another,” Hill said. “He’s basically leveraging his platform to make that happen.”
The foundation partnered with corporate partners looking for diverse candidates from underrepresented communities.
“So the Pathway App was developed by a lot of our specially corporate partners, who talked about looking for accountability and the way to track people, metrics is everything,” she said. “So how do we know that our communities are getting better. The Pathway App was born with two components based on our strategic pillars: community building and workforce readiness. The community building platform was designed to look at all the services and wraparound services, social services that people receive to track that through a mobile app, getting real time solutions, real time contact with for example, their social worker, or people that are helping them along the way.”
The app also allows job applicants to find other different, essential resources.
“There are different resources for a particular individual, all of that is to again, help people in our community to help lift them up through whatever the resources they need,” she said. “Then on the workforce readiness side, we put in a virtual platform where we could match all of the opportunities for jobs that corporations have. That’s a 365-day connection process with candidates and corporations. It’s helping our recruiters for companies actively recruit diverse talent. For us specifically, it helps us to track our research and the results of what we’re doing. So that’s really the two major components of the Pathway app.”
The app is unique due to its state-of-the-art technology and the social services it provides, which have not lived up to expectations in the past, according to Hill. But this app hopes to change that.
“I think what makes it different is a couple of things,” she said. “You have state of the art technology, software; you have it at your fingertips because people have cell phones. If a job comes up, you can get a text that says we have somebody looking for this role that you’ve applied for and many social service recipients until now really had to manage all of that on their own. So they’re juggling the services like child care, housing, training, job placement, they’re trying to do all of that. The Pathway App integrates all of that for them. They’re able to track where people are, what they’re doing and eliminate any missteps and costs.”
The app also keeps track of the progress of those receiving services.
“It’s a smooth process and it really helps the care, the social services coach or caregiver that’s working with a particular client. And it also helps us track where they are long term,” she said. “So if we look for metrics, three to five years from now to test, if we really help this person, we can still be in contact, still have them in our database, and then know how their progress is.”
The app available at https://tdjfoundation.org/pathway-program. Candidates can submit their resume on the app as well as online, regardless of skill sets.
“Currently, we have had 980 candidates who dropped information into the app,” Hill said. “You can have a degree; you could not have a degree. I was just looking at the statistics of the breakdown of the demographics. You have people with master’s [degrees], people who are working who want to change jobs. It’s just a really interesting dynamic.”
Hill described the app designed as a one stop shop. With the many services, applicants should give some thought regarding how the program could help them.
“You first have to understand what your need is and then get connected to those needs,” Hill said. “So what are my needs? How do I connect, so corporations have been looking especially now, for they have so many job openings? For potential candidates, they have living wage jobs that in a lot of cases don’t require degrees. If you take someone who’s ready to move in their career, maybe because of the pandemic they’re having to rescale. So they come in, they see the opportunities, many of those companies are willing to train. Then, we can track them, and even send them in a direction through the app. Here’s a company that has a living wage job, they have a training program, my intern program, you get paid. So we’re really serving as a bridge between the people who need the most help and need to elevate and the companies who are looking to help them do that.”
“The reason we’re excited about this app and really want people to get involved is because as we look at our communities, and especially our communities of color, people need to rescale – such as if I’ve been a frontline worker, for example, that was really impacted by the pandemic. It gives you an opportunity to see what’s out there without, it’s at your fingertips without going from, you know, one website to the other, or a lot of different employers.… We know companies who have a focus on veterans with their draft and so no matter where you are, we can find a corporation that lines with that and have job openings for you.”
Hill said earning a living wage is important to improve economic conditions. In Texas, an annual income of $57,160 would be considered a living wage, according to GoBankingRates.com.
“You’re also talking about getting people the jobs, but also getting them housing,” Hill said as she discussed residents working in the Southern sector who work full time jobs, but “still aren’t able to make ends meet. We want to change that.”
She summarized that the goal of the program is to help communities not just survive but thrive.
“One of the things we seek to do is really take care of the whole person,” she concluded, saying that beyond getting a job, applicants may need additional support. “So we’re trying to give them full wraparound services, such as ‘Do you have transportation? Are you looking for daycare? What are the things that really will make your total life work around employment?’ – so that community-building is added on to the workforce readiness. Because sometimes you can get a job, but you don’t have daycare, you have to drive an hour to get to work or catch the bus? So we’re trying to help them accommodate all of the basic needs for themselves.”
Though the program is new, Hill said the goal is to expand it to over 14 of the largest cities in the U.S. to assist residents who are really in need of work find good-paying jobs.