LA:RISE is the Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise, an 11 partner collaborative focused on improving placement and retention outcomes for low wage workers. LIFT plays the pivotal role of a personal support provider, offering interventions in three key areas: personal support, social support, and financial support. Within LA:RISE, their sole focus is to work with the individual once they are placed in competitive employment to continue to provide services to help individuals remain employed. The goal is to do everything possible to ensure that individuals don’t fall back into the system. These services provide benefits to both the individuals and the employers for whom they work.
Personal support providers as part of the LA:RISE model
As part of the LA:RISE program, partners defined six key retention categories and prioritized services in the following areas: social and community support, personal development, recognition and rewards, service referrals, employer support, and employment services. We are going to focus on four of these here: job coaching, service referrals, financial coaching, and financial incentives.
Support services offered as part of LA:RISE
Retention Service: Job Coaching
In order to deliver effective job coaching, it is important to build a strong relationship with the employee because success may not happen overnight. Building deep relationships will help sustain their personal journey and carry them to the next milestone. Develop a personal plan based on the individual’s long term dreams and goals, then break it down into tangible steps: Are there barriers that are getting in the way? Is their housing stable? Do they need technical training to achieve this goal? It is important to remember to meet the member where they are; really listen to what they are telling you and not what you think they are telling you.
- Build relationships: Advocate and client meet consistently. Important to have this base built as this is a long journey and immediate outcomes are not always possible.
- Develop individual plan: Goal setting, resume brush-up, mock interviews.
- Meet people where they are: Listen to what they are actually saying, not what you perceive or interpret what they are saying.
- Balance short term needs with long term mindset: Understand current job role; does it align with their long term goals?
- Celebrate milestones: Break down goals into small attainable steps and celebrate each accomplishment.
Retention Service: Service Referrals
Something that LIFT is known for is providing essential service referrals, especially in the areas of housing, health, and childcare services. Among the most essential service referrals are housing and transportation. In LA, many low income workers may not be homeless, but may be unstably housed or on the brink of homelessness. LIFT sees this as the number one barrier to remaining employed and as a result work with partners to identify affordable housing options for their members.
- Build partnerships: Service agency primary role is case management and support. Develop partnerships with agencies with expertise in housing, legal, and health.
- Prioritize housing & transportation: LIFT has observed that housing and transportation are the number one barriers to retention success.
- Navigate benefits cliff: Having staff on hand or partners who understand the complicated relationship between income and benefits is essential.
Retention Service: Financial Coaching
LIFT focuses on the essentials: budgeting, understanding credit scores, and healthy financial habits. More importantly, they attempt to dispel some of the reasons as to why individuals may not be banked. Many individuals have deep rooted fears or myths either due to misconceptions or personal experience. They work on breaking down those fears and misconceptions and providing financial access to savings accounts, loans, or lending circles.
LIFT used to provide financial workshops and found that an individual coaching model was more effective for their members. They found that 1:1 counseling is more effective because…
- One on One: Transitioned from workshop model to coaching model- more effective to build specialized budgets and planning that work for members
- Dispel myths and fears: Many are unbanked due to misconceptions or personal experience. Break down these barriers and instill confidence
- Increase access to financial systems: Loans, Savings Accounts, Improving Credit, Lending Circles
Retention Service: Financial Incentives
Within LA:RISE, wage supplements are distributed to individuals to recognize employment milestones and encourage participation within the personal support provider program. These supplements are referred to internally as “financial incentives”, but are communicated to the employees as “bonuses”.
Example financial incentive from LA:RISE
In addition to wage supplements, LIFT introduced lending circles as a way to provide both social and financial support to their members. The lending circles consist of 6-10 members and each month members contribute $50 to the community “fund” with one member selected to receive the entirety of the pot to either use for immediate need or kick-start their savings. This rotates for six months, all the while building the individuals’ credit scores. Since lack of credit is one of the primary reasons as to why individuals cannot obtain housing, this is a way to improve multiple aspects of stability in this person’s life.