The PROMISE Center: Promoting Resilience, Opportunity, and Mobility in Support of Equity

The PROMISE Center is committed to uncovering the most effective strategies, and the partnerships and conditions needed, to build a 21st century workforce development ecosystem that helps all people succeed and thrive.

Trainer with adult trainees
View the recording of our June 2022 inaugural event, Creating an Equitable Workforce System at Scale: A Roundtable Discussion.

The PROMISE Center works to develop, build, and measure the impact of innovations that can increase economic opportunity and mobility in the U.S. at scale. We are partnering with pioneering community colleges and best-in-class sectoral training programs to identify, adapt, and help implement the most effective education and training practices cost-efficiently and at scale. Our goals are ambitious:

  1. To help build a more equitable and effective workforce development ecosystem that can reach millions of adults in diverse settings;
  2. To dramatically improve equity in educational and economic opportunity;
  3. To create robust talent pipelines into good jobs that also help employers and industry effectively compete and thrive in the global economy;
  4. To restore broad-based opportunities for mobility out of poverty; and
  5. To promote greater resilience and shared prosperity in our country. 

We are also pursuing an ambitious leadership and engagement strategy to convene practitioners, policymakers, researchers, funders, and community members to re-envision the future of workforce development in America.

Through this work, the PROMISE Center aims to support the wide-scale adoption, replication, and systemic institutionalization of evidence-based approaches and practices for effective skill-building and workforce development. The PROMISE Center also will advocate that our efforts should be paired with policy, funding, and other reforms needed to:

  • Provide all Americans with equitable access to educational and economic opportunity; 
  • Develop the skilled labor force needed by our employers and industries; and
  • Promote stronger resilience and shared prosperity in the U.S. economy.

The PROMISE Center is directly supported by the AIR Equity Initiative, AIR’s $100+ million five-year investment to advance equity in several important areas: workforce development, education, public safety and policing, and health. The PROMISE Center has been shaped in collaboration with AIR leaders, external partners, and our PROMISE advisory board members.

Areas of Focus

Learning from the Existing Knowledge Base

Colleagues at a laptop

The PROMISE Center is investigating best-in-class sectoral training programs to understand why they have been able to effect changes where others have failed.

Strengthening Community College Workforce Training

Nurses training with IV bags

We aim to understand what makes effective programs work, so that those insights can be applied more broadly among community colleges nationwide.

Expanding the Scale and Reach of Effective Sectoral Training Programs

Adult students in a classroom

We seek to partner with the best-in-class programs to further bolster their effectiveness and broaden their reach to underserved populations.

Discovering How to Effectively Support Underserved Populations

Masked college students in a classroom

The PROMISE Center is dedicated to learning what works to help integrate underserved populations into a vital workforce ecosystem.

Lauren Focarazzo headshot
Vice President
Elizabeth Rutschow
Managing Researcher and Acting Director, PROMISE Center
Harry Holzer
Institute Fellow