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Public and private collaboration moves us forward to a better future: Introducing MoveFWD

People live in Central Texas for a variety of reasons: family, careers, education, live music, proximity to the Hill Country and our inviting lakes, or simply the rich culture and special “vibe” that this region brings. With that popularity comes the reality of a higher cost of living – too high for many in our community.

At the Mobility Authority, we’re tasked with keeping Central Texas moving, and this immerses us in quality of life issues, of which mobility is undeniably a huge part. To separate affordability from mobility would be short-sighted; we must be as tuned into the economics of our customers as we are to their transportation needs and habits.

MoveFWD: The collaboration

On August 15, the Mobility Authority, Austin Community College, City of Austin, Goodwill Industries, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Travis County and Workforce Solutions publicly launched a collaborate initiative called MoveFWD. This program prepares candidates for skilled positions within the construction and customer service industries, using a comprehensive approach to bring all necessary resources to disadvantaged workers.

What do we mean by necessary resources? Job training, life skills – like filling out an employment application and career counseling – and a support network for things like housing, work clothes and transportation assistance. Our contributing employers, Colorado River Constructors and Cofiroute USA, are committed to providing access to employment opportunities – opportunities that help make the rent, feed the family, pay childcare costs, and buy that Little League uniform.

MoveFWD: The realities

At the announcement, Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion mentioned how his support system as a youth and young man was a guiding force in his success. A support system is integral to our stability and quality of life, and provides a critical foundation for individuals and communities alike.

With MoveFWD, we are targeting the homeless and near homeless, military veterans, millennials, ex-offenders trying to reenter society, the under-employed and those needing training, certification or an appropriate education that will provide job stability and benefits.

This new support system is designed so that every individual who successfully completes the program will be armed with the necessary tools to move their careers and lives forward.

MoveFWD: The responsibilities

The MoveFWD program is currently geared to the roadway construction and customer service industries. Both are growing industries in Central Texas, and working with our partners we are confident of successfully building a pipeline of qualified individuals who will keep delivering projects in our region for several years. We will explore adding other industries and employment partners as the program gets underway.

MoveFWD: Forward for all

Austin has been in the news a lot lately – best city for this, best area for that. Consistently our low unemployment is mentioned. With such repetitive accolades, it’s easy to overlook those “forgotten” pockets of Austin – and those who live there – facing unemployment as high as 20 percent.

Commissioner Travillion also pointed out that while we often say our living wage in Austin is $13 an hour, we don’t stop to do the math: That $13 an hour translates into approximately $27,000 a year. The time when one could live independently in Austin on that annual salary is long past, and the past is not where we can afford to set our gaze.

It’s important to repeat what our Mobility Authority Vice Chair, Nikelle Meade, said at our launch: All of our MoveFWD partners are currently serving our communities already. They have the experience and the knowledge to be strong pillars of the MoveFWD support system to improve participants’ lives – and in doing so, adding value to our entire region.

So that those who really want to live in Austin, can also better afford it, and enjoy it.

For more information on the MoveFWD program, please send an email to MoveFWDCTX@ctrma.org, or call 512-450-6316. You can also visit our website.

 

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