Retail America Podcast

Hope Street Group’s brand new podcast Retail America: Pathways to Opportunity cuts through the myth of the retail apocalypse and showcase the incredible opportunities in today’s dynamic retail sector. Each short episode — streamed on this page, iTunes and via app — will invite experts from various fields including retail, workforce development, technology and adult education to celebrate and discuss exciting new programs, research and innovations that connect with a growing audience of individuals and professionals interested in diving deeper into today’s hot topics in these fields.


Retail America highlights the work of the Retail Opportunity Network, but also draws in third party perspectives to offer fresh insights on pervasive questions such as the future of work and technological innovation.

Episode 1: Retail is an Opportunity Sector

Julie Gehrki, Vice President of Programs at the Walmart Foundation, shares insights into retail as a sector of opportunity by highlighting Walmart’s best practices and strategies for advancing frontline retail workers.

Episode 2: How can Employers Overcome Low Unemployment?

Pat Steele, Project Director at Central Iowa Works, shares insights into how employers are overcoming low numbers of job applicants and providing wrap around services that overcome employment barriers as well as general insights into the Des Moines retail sector.

Episode 3: The Benefits of Upskilling Frontline Workers 

Jaime Fall, Director of UpSkill America, shares how upskilling programs benefit frontline workers and their employers, and provides insights from the latest upskilling programs across America.

Hope Street Group launched the Retail Opportunity Network (RON), funded by Walmart Giving’s $100 million Opportunity Initiative, in 2015. RON is a collection of more than 50 organizations working collaboratively to drive system change for the U.S. retail workforce by developing ways to make it easier for frontline retail workers to advance in their careers. This includes:

  • Generating and sharing insights into retail as a sector of opportunity,
  • Building effective approaches to retail training and advancement, and
  • Engaging retail employers to improve the ecosystem


RON members are changing how careers in retail are viewed by both workers and employers. Through a variety of competency-based strategies, RON members are creating greater access to entry-level jobs in retail and coupling that with training and development that demonstrate a clear career path for workers, so they have a better understanding of not only the opportunity for advancement, but what it takes to move up the ladder into middle-skill and management positions in retail.


With 1-in-4 jobs in the United States supported by retail, it is a crucial sector in our economy – and so are its 16 million workers. Retail jobs go beyond just sales jobs, and in fact, the sector offers a variety of desirable career opportunities for the American workforce – including jobs in software, IT, security and marketing, as well as careers in management.[1] Yet, retail has one of the highest turnover rates of any sector, meaning millions of Americans may be missing out on opportunities for a career path that offers advancement and income growth.[2]




Hope Street Group manages ongoing engagement with and among RON members, including hosting bi-annual convenings of network members, on-demand webinars, regular communications via newsletter and email alerts, and other strategies to strengthen collaboration and share best practices for driving system change. Learn more about our membership by clicking on our Retail Opportunity Network Member Map.

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