Working Bridges: an employer collaborative

Working Bridges is an employer collaborative dedicated to improving workplace productivity, retention, advancement and financial stability for employees

Employers know the success of their businesses and economic health of our community depends on employee retention and enhanced productivity. Through Working Bridges, they also recognize a steady job is the most reliable ticket out of poverty for individuals.

Working Bridges is convened and managed by the United Way of Chittenden County (Vermont) and aligns with the Income priorities of its community impact agenda.  Currently, almost 50 employers participate in Working Bridges.

How We Work

We are a collaborative of employers working to design and test innovative workplace practices that:
  • Help workers from all economic classes minimize work disruptions and improve financial stability;
  • Build business’ retention and advancement.

Working Bridges enables you to develop and test new employee benefits and management practices both within your own organizations and on a shared basis.  Working Bridges includes:

  • An employer workgroup that
develops new approaches to assist employees succeed in the workplace.
  • Bridges out of Poverty, an introductory education session to create understanding about economic class and its implications at work.
  • An employee loan/savings program that addresses a gap in existing employee benefits programs and helps employees build credit and long-term financial stability.
  • A shared “resource coordinator” to help employees and supervisors connect with community resources and resolve work barriers and disruptions.

What’s the impact?

  • Employers see improvements in employment trends–75% of core participants report improvement in employee retention, attendance or overall productivity.
  • Employers attribute some of the success to Working Bridges, although recognize many factors are at work.
  • 100% of core participants report Working Bridges is helping them achieve their original goals:
    • Hiring, retaining, and advancing lower income workers
    • Maximizing workforce effectiveness
    • Helping workers achieve financial stability

Ontario Trillium Foundation supports Poverty Task Force

The CEO of the Ontario Trillium Foundation has high praise for the commitment of staff and volunteers of the Bruce Grey United Way.

Andrea Cohen was guest speaker at the United Way’s annual general meeting. She administers an annual budget of $120 million of provincial government grant money.

Cohen says the Trillium Foundation and the United Way have much in common in working to make better communities.

During her visit to Bruce Grey, Cohen presented a grant of $60,000 for a collaborative project between the United Way and the Bruce Grey Children’s Alliance.

It’s More Than Poverty Report – February 2013


Latest United Way Toronto report voices the concern that employment pracarity – employment that does not offer security or benefits – is affecting household stability. The report shows that employment insecurity has an independent effect on household well-being and community connections, regardless of income. These precarious employment relationships are being the “new normal” in our workforce.