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PYN News Article


Philadelphia partnership will participate in Reimagine Retail to investigate strategies for collaborating with employers on job quality and worker advancement

Category: PYN | May 1, 2017

Philadelphia, PA, May 1, 2017 – The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) announced today that it has awarded a $200,000 grant to the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) on behalf of Generation Work Philadelphia, an Annie E. Casey initiative, to take part in Reimagine Retail. The project is made possible through a $5.5 million grant awarded by the Walmart Foundation to the Aspen Institute in 2016. Over a two-year period, PYN in collaboration with District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund, JEVS Human Services, JOIN and YouthBuild Philly will continue to engage retail employers and explore strategies to improve job quality and support advancement for retail workers.

Through Reimagine Retail, EOP, the Philadelphia partnership, and five additional partnerships across the country will investigate approaches that aim to improve job quality, create pathways for worker advancement opportunities, and increase employee engagement, productivity, and retention in retail and related sectors.

Generation Work Philadelphia is an eight-year potential funding commitment from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, to achieve a shared vision and common goals to transform local workforce development systems and practices. With the two-year Reimagine Retail grant, partners will have the opportunity to experiment with new ideas, learn from their peers, and participate in research activities to explore the outcomes of their work, which will be shared broadly to advance promising practices for expanding economic opportunities for workers in retail and adjacent sectors.

“We recognize that creating meaningful solutions comes from a collective effort and we are grateful to have this valued collaboration with District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund, JEVS Human Services, JOIN and YouthBuild Philly,” said Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, President and CEO of PYN.  “The Reimagine Retail grant will allow this partnership to expand upon existing relationships, employer-engagement strategies and infrastructure to improve job quality and advancement in the retail sector, a large and growing industry here in Philadelphia, as well as share these best practice solutions to help strengthen other communities.”

“We have found that learning and evaluation methods that engage program leaders and other stakeholders in the process have been critical to developing a practical understanding of why and how specific initiatives achieve their outcomes, building practical knowledge about efforts that address complex economic and social challenges,” said Maureen Conway, vice president for policy programs and executive director of the Economic Opportunities Program at the Aspen Institute. “We are excited about bringing this engagement approach to Reimagine Retail so that the lessons we learn about this emerging area of practice can be applied and adapted in other communities.”

Reimagine Retail is one of several interrelated projects provided by the Walmart Foundation to the Aspen Institute as part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s Opportunity initiative, a five-year, $100 million sector-wide effort aimed at strengthening the transferability of skills of the U.S. retail workforce and developing ways to make it easier for front-line workers to advance their careers.  

“Through our collaboration with the Aspen Institute, we aim to further strengthen the retail workforce ecosystem by creating greater opportunities for workers to build long-lasting careers,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer for Walmart. “By engaging six local partners in communities around the country, our work together will help ensure that frontline workers have access to the training and tools needed to achieve upward mobility.”

More information about Reimagine Retail and each of the six local partners is available online at:


Philadelphia Youth Network is an intermediary organization that works with cross-sector partners to expand access to services for underserved young people ages 12-24. We know that Philadelphia struggles with challenges that have serious implications for not only our young people but for our city overall. PYN has always prioritized services to communities with limited resources and access to opportunity. PYN’s vision is to alleviate poverty and inequity through education and employment. PYN’s mission is to create coordinated systems which promote the attainment of academic achievement, economic opportunity and personal success.

Generation Work Philadelphia, an Annie E. Casey initiative was launched in 2016 with an eight-year potential funding commitment from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that will expand through partnerships, employer-engagement strategies and infrastructure already in place. The Generation Work Philadelphia partnership represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform local workforce development systems and practices, creating a citywide network of organizations committed to working together to achieve a shared vision and common goals. The Generation Work Philadelphia partnership is comprised of the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN), which serves as the lead organization for Reimagine Retail, District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund, JOIN and YouthBuild Philly.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

The Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) advances promising strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income Americans connect to and thrive in a changing economy. Over its 25 years of work, EOP has focused on expanding individuals’ opportunities to connect to quality work, to start businesses, and to build assets and economic stability.



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