Economic Progress Institute celebrates 10th Annual Policy and Budget Conference

The Economic Progress Institute (EPI) celebrated its 10th annual policy and budget conference entitled Budget Rhode Map: Paving the Way to Good Jobs. Each year, the Institute hosts a half-day conference to educate policymakers, community leaders, and interested residents about critical policy challenges and opportunities facing Rhode Island. This year’s conference focused on strategies that improve the skills of Rhode Island’s workforce, especially for adults with lower skills and English language needs.

“We are fortunate here in Rhode Island to have creative leaders in state government, the workforce skills provider community and businesses, as well as hard-working adults who are dedicated to improving their skills, said Rachel Flum, executive director of the Economic Progress Institute. “A high quality and well-funded workforce development system that provides pathways to family-sustaining jobs for all Rhode Islanders – including people with limited English language or literacy skills – is vital to our state’s economic success.”

Below is the video from the event:

EPI Executive Director Rachel Flum and EPI Board Chair Lisa Roth Blackman welcomed participants:

Brett Smiley, Chief of Staff, Governor Gina Raimondo:

Rhode Island State Senator William Conley Jr (Democrat, District 18, East Providence), Chair Senate Finance Committee:

Rachel Flum, EPI Executive Director:

The keynote speaker this year was Andy Van Kleunen, Chief Executive Officer and founder of National Skills Coalition, a national coalition of business, labor, higher education, and community organization leaders who have come together to advocate for an America that grows its economy by investing in its people. Van Kleunen is a recognized expert on workforce and education policy issues and is regularly invited to advise Congress, the federal government and state agencies.

“The barriers to success that hold back low-income Rhode Islanders are very real, and in some cases are even tougher here than in other neighboring states,” said Van Kleunan. “But the commitment in this state to confront those challenges is very real as well. Your call to invest in the skills of every Rhode Islander, regardless of their income or background, is a vitally important step in that process.”

Brenda Dann-Messier, Postsecondary Commissioner, Rhode Island
Courtney Hawkins, Director, Rhode Island Department of Human Services
Heather Hudson, Executive Director, Governor’s Workforce Board of Rhode Island
Ken Wagner, Commissioner, Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE)

Mario Bueno, Executive Director, Progreso Latino
Shannon Carroll, Executive Director, Genesis Center
Cameron Ennis, Executive Director, The Education Exchange
Katiria Perez, Medical Assistant/Genesis Center Graduate
Jacqueline Scungio, Human Resources Operations Director, Providence Community Health Centers