From the Bottom to the Top: Economic Mobility in Atlanta

The executive director of CareerRise, John Helton, discusses how they are applying a systems thinking approach to economic mobility work in Atlanta. Explore our Toolbox for the Systems Change Mindset for a range of methods, tools, and resources.

Using Regional Labor Demand and Supply Data to Understand Labor Demand Needs

Developed in conjunction with Neighborhood Nexus, the CareerRise Workforce and Occupational Opportunity Dashboard provides users with insights into Metro Atlanta’s labor market that can help inform decision-making around program development, education and training opportunities, hiring practices, and more. Partners, planners, and the public may use the tool to inform and influence workforce development policy and practice.

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Reimaging Career Advisement and Service Coordination in Workforce Development

In partnership with BlackRock, CareerRise will engage expert consultancy to conceive and plan the implementation of the “Atlanta Career Marketplace”, a multi-channel platform to provide comprehensive, unbiased self-directed and person-assisted career advisement and service coordination including information, assessment, career planning, warm referral to training and support services, and follow-up.

Systems Change for Economic Mobility

In 2019, CareerRise and the five metro Atlanta Workforce Development Boards (WorkSource Metro Atlanta) embarked on a unique mission to implement public policy changes and workforce system improvements that would aid metro Atlanta residents in their ability to increase economic mobility. Utilizing Human-Centered Design to review processes and policies, the team developed and implemented a new process that focuses on the customer experience and continuous improvement. Regional alignment and collaboration have been embedded into the WorkSource Metro Atlanta Regional Plan with hopes of key outcomes and learnings can be spread in other service offerings.

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Using Regional WorkSource WIOA Data to Affect Economic Mobility

In partnership with WorkSource Metro Atlanta, National Fund for Workforce Solutions, and Emory University, CareerRise completed the first-ever regional analysis of the outcome data for WIOA participants. Outcomes highlighted three strategies to impact economic mobility and eight actional disparities that WorkSource Metro Atlanta could implement. As a result, WorkSource Cobb and WorkSource Fulton created pilots to address a disparity faced by WIOA participants in their regions.


  • Increase participation in high poverty neighborhoods
  • Provide counsel and advice toward career paths that lead to higher wages
  • Provide support to help job seekers obtain credentials and move up the career ladder beyond entry-level jobs

Actional Disparities

High Poverty (Participation and Density)

Rate of WIOA Participation and density of participation in high poverty areas.

High Poverty (Credential)

Residents in high poverty tracts are less likely to earn a credential.

Enrollment of Neediest Individuals

Neediest individuals appear to be least likely to enroll.

Supportive Services

Utilization of support services is low, although evidence suggests the importance for some customers and positive impact on education credentials and employment outcomes.

Gender (Credential)

Men are more likely to complete training and earn credentials than women.

Gender (Wages)

Men on average earned $1.88 more than women and were much more likely to have training-related employment retention.

Education Level

Individuals with less than High School education had worse than average outcomes in employment, wages, and employment retention.

HD Clusters

Health Care and IT trainees were much more likely to have training-related employment retention than non-HD cluster trainees; TDL trainees were much less likely to be employed all four quarters than were non-HD cluster trainees.