Baltimore Health Corps Initiative: A Transitional Jobs Program to Improve Public Health and Employment Outcomes During COVID-19
The Baltimore Health Corps (BHC) is a transitional jobs program for unemployed and underemployed city residents that provides them with temporary paid jobs as contact tracers and care coordinators. The BHC aimed to address two pressing challenges in Baltimore during the COVID-19 Pandemic—a sudden loss of jobs and the need to stop the pandemic’s spread. BHC staff also received career navigation and support connecting to permanent employment from the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (MOED), as well as behavioral health and legal services. With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Office of Family Assistance’s Project IMPROVE, Mathematica teamed up with MOED to support the effort. Using Learn, Innovate, Improve (LI2)—an evidence-driven framework and process for change — the team defined a science-informed model to help BHC employees successfully transition to the regular labor market once their paid position ends. This brief highlights the experiences of the MOED-Mathematica partnership during the Learn and Innovate phases—when we defined the challenge to tackle and developed solutions. A subsequent brief after the initiative ends in September 2021 will capture the experiences throughout the initiative and lessons learned, including finding from the Improve phase.