April 25, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

Jobs for Youth a Growing Focus

Youth employment is taking center stage in Detroit and around the country.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher Lu visited Detroit on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, to spotlight Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) and encourage more businesses to hire city youths this summer and beyond.  GDYT is a six-week program that combines work readiness training with on-the-job experience. The program matches employers with employees, provides support and transportation, handles payroll and more. Approximately 5,600 youth workers were in the program last year, with this year’s goal set at serving 8,000 workers ages 14-24 by meeting the goal of $10.5 million in funding.

The growing list of businesses and foundations who have contributed money and pledged to hire youth workers this summer includes the Ralph C. Wilson Jr Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, DTE Energy Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and the Marjorie S. Fisher Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. Programs like GDYT are particularly important in urban areas, where often minority youth live in areas that have few businesses, thus have a harder time finding work. Youth who work over the summer are less likely to have issues with the law, have better performance in school, and are 86 percent more likely to have jobs the following year (JPMorgan Chase report, 2015).

Other cities across the U.S. have been and are currently working to grow their youth jobs and summer jobs programs, including New York City, where Mayor de Blasio is working with the nonprofit Community Service Society on a proposal to offer a summer youth jobs program open to all area high school students, and Seattle, where last week it was announced that the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative will hold a large-scale hiring fair in Seattle May 5 and further expand its nationwide effort to connect America’s youth to jobs.

GDYT, which has Mayor Duggan’s support and growing philanthropic and corporate support, is poised to become a model program in youth engagement. But Detroit is not the only city in Michigan that understands the importance of investing in our youth via job opportunities.  Initiatives around Michigan include the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, who works with area nonprofit and for-profit businesses with their Summer Youth Initiative, placing about 500 students a year and the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, Michigan Works, and Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber who have partnered to start the new Summer 16 youth program, a soft-skills training course and 11 weeks of employment this summer for 16-24 year olds. All programs offer pre-employment training and support throughout, which helps students grow and programs sustain.




The Great Debate over our Great Lakes

In the coming weeks, eight governors may determine the foreseeable future for 20 percent of the world’s fresh water.

Nearly a decade ago, the Great Lakes Compact and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (Compact Council) were formed by eight governors of the states surrounding the Great Lakes as well as Canada’s two provinces on the lakes, Ontario and Quebec. The bipartisan agreement that became state and federal law effectively erected a legal wall around the lakes, which are the largest source of fresh water on earth. The law aims to secure the future of keeping the fresh water in its place for the 40 million people who rely on it in our local economies.

The Compact Council will now face its first of potentially many tests, as Waukesha Wis., a suburb of Milwaukee, has requested the right to pull drinking water from Lake Michigan. The current eight governors comprising the Council convened last week in Illinois to begin discussions toward an ultimate decision – and with that, perhaps, a precedence – on how to share or not share what comprises 20 percent of the world’s fresh water supply.

Increasing eyes are on the Waukesha case as drought issues in the Southwest persist and as global water issues increase. While no southwestern states have approached the Great Lakes, the idea itself is perpetuating conversation around the Compact Council, which remains the main source of protection for the Great Lakes.

Tom Cook, executive director of the Cook Family Foundation and co-chair of the Green and Blue Network reflected on the need for greater public understanding of freshwater sources at-large, stating, “Water defines Michigan, and as environmental funders we are working hard on the local, state, and regional level to protect the water integrity of the Great Lakes.  As the Flint crisis demonstrates, all of us should be taking a greater interest in the sources and supply of our freshwater.”

The final vote on this decision is anticipated May 23, and must be unanimous to pass.





Crowdsourcing the Future of a Social Movement

Title and content excerpted and adapted from an original article written by Doug Hattaway, appearing in Stanford Social Innovation Review.

More than 140 LGBTQ organizations and  foundations have partnered to produce one of the largest and broadest data sets ever created about the concerns of LGBTQ people.

Our Tomorrow began as a campaign of major funders and nonprofit leaders of the LGBTQ movement who sought to ensure that, in the wake of the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling ending discrimination in marriage rights for same-sex couples, momentum on important issues still facing the LGBTQ community did not go unaddressed.

As described by Hattaway Communications President Doug Hattaway in a recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article, to understand and identify what the next phase of the LGBTQ rights movement could and should look like, these leaders wanted to go to the grassroots and explore concerns on the minds of  the LGBTQ community. Rather than conducting a traditional survey that asked people to respond to a predetermined set of issues, the leaders envisioned an open-ended conversation. Importantly, the conversation would aim to reflect the full diversity of the community by engaging people from all walks of life, all across the country.

The resulting campaign might well be the first example of “crowdsourcing” the future of a social movement. Its application comes at a critical time for the LGBTQ movement offers lessons for organizations and other movements interested in engaging their grassroots constituencies.

The campaign ultimately collected nearly 15,000 hopes, fears, and ideas from more than 5,600 individuals in all 50 states. Review the first report of learnings from the LGBTQ community and hear about the key considerations to building a meaningful crowdsourced data set, independent of your issue area.








Content excerpted from The Ruth Mott Foundation.

Recently, The Ruth Mott Foundation announced it is awarding nearly $1.3 million in grants under its new strategy to strengthen north Flint neighborhoods and create opportunities for residents to contribute and thrive.

The new grants signify an exciting era for the foundation, which in November launched its five-year strategic plan to concentrate grantmaking resources in north Flint and give voice to an often underrepresented group of residents.

The $1,292,450 will go toward 10 programs that represent four priority areas chosen during an intensive community engagement process initiated in 2015 as part of the foundation’s commitment to let north Flint residents drive its grant-making strategy. The Ruth Mott Foundation believes that focusing on a defined area with significant challenges – and engaging the residents in that area to help determine solutions – will result in a greater positive impact.

“Too often, residents of Flint go unheard and it’s critical for us to lift up their voices and make them a part of the process,” said Handy Lindsey, president of the Ruth Mott Foundation. “We went to the residents first with our new strategy, and now we’re able to deploy our resources from the ground up. Throughout this entire process, we’re gathering input from people in north Flint about what they need to improve their lives and their neighborhoods.”

After a comprehensive series of eight community forums with more than 500 participants, the Ruth Mott Foundation used residents’ feedback to narrow its focus on priority areas that would help improve quality of life in north Flint. The four main priority areas are youth, safety, economic opportunity and neighborhoods, and specific themes within those areas include youth programs out of school hours, blight, job training and neighborhood centers.

Read about the 10 approved grants and how they will contribute to outcomes for Flint here.







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