ON-Lion Letter

Cracks are becoming visible in American work habits.  Whole subpopulations now have weak attachments to self-supporting labor.  This worsens poverty and economic mobility.  It also damages well-being in subtler ways -- because work plays a vital role in building social connections and boosting self-respect and happiness.  Any sensible effort to improve American prosperity today must begin by bolstering work.

Alas, government agencies have a very checkered history when it comes to helping those who have struggled in the workforce develop the capacities to do better in the future.  Statistically, most government job-training programs are quite unimpressive.

There are, however, many charitable programs that have demonstrated real success at leading unskilled persons, single mothers, inexperienced minorities, released prisoners, former addicts, and other at-risk populations into lasting, transformative employment.

The Philanthropy Roundtable's Clearing Obstacles to Work:  A Wise Giver's Guide to Fostering Self-Reliance, by journalist David Bass, was written to help donors find those successful models and strategies.  Because when it comes to curing deprivation, softening inequality, improving life satisfaction, and strengthening society, work works.

Bass was a grants officer and communications director at the John William Pope Foundation in North Carolina.

Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation substantially supports the Philanthropy Roundtable.

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