By Julie Greco, ILR School

The Yang-Tan WorkABILITY Incubator, recently launched through the ILR School’s Center for Applied Research on Work (CAROW), will support innovative applied research projects and collaborations that bring together two or more parts of the university to address important societal issues linked to work.

Funded through the generosity of K. Lisa Yang ’74, the incubator will provide support both to early stage projects and larger initiatives.

“Through applied research and collaboration across Cornell to create tools that will translate into equity and impact for individuals, CAROW and the Yang-Tan WorkABILITY Incubator will enable the ILR School to truly advance the world of work,” Yang said.

The incubator has already launched the Initiative on Home Care and Home Health Care Workers. It will also be the new home of the Criminal Justice and Employment Initiative. Both initiatives build a community of scholars and researchers across Cornell’s campuses.

“The Yang-Tan WorkABILITY Incubator provides CAROW with an engine through which to tackle the big, consequential challenges of our day in the areas of work, employment and labor,” said Ariel Avgar, Ph.D. ’08, the director of CAROW. “The two inaugural initiatives are a perfect case in point. Focusing on the working conditions of low-wage workers in health care and the equitable access to employment opportunities for justice- involved individuals builds on Cornell expertise with the goal of guiding action based on applied research.”

“We owe a great debt to Lisa Yang’s vision and generosity, which have made this effort and approach possible,” Avgar said.

The Initiative on Home Care and Home Health Care Workers will be directed by Weill Cornell Medicine’s Dr. Madeline Sterling ’08. Nicola Dell, associate professor at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech and in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, will serve as director of technical innovation.

“This new initiative will drive rigorous interdisciplinary research on the link between working conditions, the home care workforce and the delivery of high-quality patient care with the goal of influencing practice and policy,” said Avgar, ILR’s senior associate dean for outreach and sponsored research.

Sterling is an expert on home care and its impact on the health of patients. Her research focuses on examining how home care services impact the delivery of care and novel ways to leverage the home care workforce to improve both worker and patient outcomes.

Dell studies human-computer interactions, computer security and privacy, and information and communication technologies and development. Dell’s health care work examines the potential for designing technologies that enhance equity for home care workers.

ILR’s Criminal Justice and Employment Initiative will receive funding from the incubator, in addition to its state funding. Directed by Timothy McNutt with Jodi Anderson serving as technical innovation director and Matt Saleh as research director, the initiative provides training on criminal records and employment law to job seekers who have been involved in the criminal legal system. The program also assists employers in developing fair chance hiring, engages in research to study reentry practices and works with policymakers and legislators on criminal justice reform.

McNutt has a background in criminal law, litigation and policy to improve employment opportunities for people with criminal records. He has interacted with hundreds of incarcerated and newly paroled people in the past five years to help them access and correct their criminal records, and get jobs. McNutt broadened the outreach through the incubator to include the Restorative Record Project, which helps job candidates create non-traditional résumés that highlight core competencies and micro-credentials.

Anderson, a Cornell Prison Education Program alumnus who earned a master’s degree from Stanford University, is the developer of Rézme, an app created to support justice-involved job candidates.

Saleh is a senior research associate at the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability at the ILR School. His research focuses on career pathways for youth with disabilities and on employment barriers such as justice involvement.

Julie Greco is a senior communications specialist for the ILR School.

This story originally appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.