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Image - American Dream
Image - American Dream

Is the American Dream Out of Reach for Most Californians?

How Businesses Can Restore the State’s Middle Class

California’s powerhouse economy, the fifth largest in the world, relies on a skilled, healthy and available workforce. Yet employers say that job candidates often lack the skills they need—and they cannot grow as a result.

Meanwhile, many workers make low wages that are stagnant, despite ever higher living costs. Often workers lack access to quality job training and are increasingly shut out of California’s middle class.

As one of the state’s largest philanthropic funders, with $2.3 billion in assets and annual grantmaking of nearly $100 million, The James Irvine Foundation envisions a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically. The foundation recently commissioned a survey of California workers, finding that nearly half are struggling with poverty.  

Join business and community leaders for a discussion of the California workforce and how to increase the skills, qualifications and well-being of employees in ways to benefit individuals, their families, their employers and the California economy—ultimately restoring the state’s vibrant middle class. 


This program is generously supported by the James Irvine Foundation

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Sarah Bohn, Ph.D.

Director of Research and Senior Fellow, Public Policy Institute of California

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Rhonda Johnson

President, AT&T California

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Joe Speicher

Director, Autodesk Foundation

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Minna Tao

General Manager, Recology; Board Member, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce; Board Member; Union Square BID

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Lenny Mendonca

Chief Economic and Business Advisor and Director of the Office of Business and Economic Development, State of California; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors—Moderator