Slingshot Initiative - Accelerating Income Mobility through Regional Collaboration

The Challenge


Despite our state’s overall prosperity, too many Californians are in danger of being left behind, not making ends meet and unable to create a middle class life for themselves and their families. Many Californians face substantial challenges in finding good jobs and supporting themselves and their families in an era with volatile, rapidly evolving labor markets. As a result, regions across California face a combination of shortages of skilled workers in key industries and cohorts of students and workers ill equipped to compete for mid- to high-skilled jobs. All of this places increasing strain on equality of opportunity, a core component of the American Dream, and the ability of this generation and the next to rise above the economic and social station of their parents. Equal opportunity is at risk of becoming myth for whole generations of young Californians.

Traditional workforce, education, and economic development strategies have not had sufficient impact in helping enough workers to build needed skills, find good jobs and realize positive economic mobility. And even promising strategies lack the speed and agility in execution needed to respond to current and emerging skills and job demands. We need to bring the creativity for which California is known to bear and create new strategies that achieve scalable impact.

What Are We Trying to Accomplish?


Slingshot seeks to seed collaborative efforts by employers and industry, government, workforce and economic development, and education stakeholders within a region to identify and then work to solve employment challenges that slow California’s economic engine -- with regionally-selected solutions to regionally-defined problems.

This guiding premise contains five dimensions:

  • We can make the greatest impact on major jobs and employment issues at the regional level.

    California is a collection of distinct regional economies; aligning our work at that level will be more effective than either city/county/district level efforts or statewide strategies.
  • We must turn the tide on income mobility in California.

    Our systems must accelerate education, employment, and economic development for those Californians in danger of being left out of our State’s prosperity.
  • We need to tackle big issues.

    California’s regions face no shortage of vexing workforce challenges. Slingshot offers an opportunity to take on a tough issue that if solved would meaningfully move the needle on employment.
  • We need to measure what  we undertake.  

    All strategies need to be grounded in effective use of data and metrics.
  • We must create the space to take risks.

    In an era of perpetual economic volatility, traditional programs don’t solve tough workforce challenges. Slingshot encourages regional partnerships to prototype new ideas, based on strong research and development, without fear of “failure” if the effort falls short of expectations. For every impactful practice that emerges, there will be others that are tried and then dropped for lack of sufficient impact.