Initiative ManagerThe Wallace Foundation
In Louisville, the city is bringing together resources and champions to support the city's children and future leaders through its Cradle to Career Initiative. The Cradle to Career Initiative calls out several ambitious goals that will drive success including: kindergarten readiness; improved school attendance and on-time grade promotion and graduation; the development of critical social-emotional skills such as persistence and positive behaviors; and, critical workforce skills such as communication and teamwork. Out-of-school time (OST) programs can be vehicles for accelerating the success of such efforts.
Regular participation in quality OST programs can reap a host of positive academic, social, and emotional outcomes for youth, thereby contributing to the goals set forth in the Cradle to Career Initiative. Yet, too often OST programming is decentralized and disorganized, with different programs - and the government agencies and private groups that fund them - operating in isolation from one another. Often, the result is lack of access to high-quality OST programs, particularly for those young people most in need. In response to this trend, many communities, like Louisville, are beginning to take a coordinated approach to improving access to quality OST experiences. Louisville BLOCS, a city-wide partnership between Metro United Way, Metro Government and Jefferson County Public Schools, is working to improve opportunities for youth through increasing access to quality OST programs. As such, BLOCS is well-positioned to ensure that OST programs contribute to the supports called out in the continuum envisioned by the Cradle to Career Initiative.
When you think of the word achievement for black males, the visual of a young man from eastern Kentucky is not likely what comes to mind.
But that's me.
I have been defying odds my entire life, and because of my incredible family, mentors and community, I've achieved what some people would think is impossible for a black man who grew up in a trailer park. From multiple college degrees to a top performer at two Fortune 30 companies, my story is one of tragedy, triumph and tenacity. It's an honor to share it with others as a source of inspiration and validation that dreams do come true when you have opportunities, and are fully committed to achieving them.
I was born and raised in Hazard, Kentucky to a minister father and a mother who worked at the United States Postal Service. Though neither had a college degree, my parents always preached education as the way to a better future. I loved sports like most kids, and was voted captain of my football team from 3rd - 12th grade because of my desire to lead and win. Although I was skillful on the field, my focus was always ensuring my grades were better than my ability to play. As such, by my senior year I was being recruited by several colleges and universities, including every Ivy League school in the country due to my 4.3 cumulative high school grade point average.
That, however, never happened...
Senior Grants ManagerMetro United Way
Educator and social reformer Dorothea Dix once said, "In a world where there is so much to be done, I felt strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do."
Many women feel the same as Dix. Some "do" by performing charitable labors. Others "do" by making charitable donations. The Women's Philanthropy Institute says that women in the U.S. are more likely to give philanthropically than men. As an example, of the individual donors to Metro United Way whose gender is known, 52 percent are female. We women are a powerful force for good!
Members of my book group were feeling the need to "do" something philanthropic a few years ago. We had all been social activists of one kind or another over the many years of our lives but, even though we still wanted to contribute, we were tired of being on the front lines. The answer to our problem was interest-free microloans to women trying to improve their lives around the world.
The path to a successful career starts long before a twenty something puts on a tie for his first job interview. It starts well before a high school senior starts answering questions about what she'll do after graduation. In fact, we're already taking the first steps toward our future careers around the same time we learn to walk.
Research tells us that career readiness is a long process with deep roots and many parts. And if we want to prepare our young people for reliable and rewarding work, we have to start early and help them along the way. These ideas serve as the catalyst for a lifelong learning initiative we call Cradle to Career.
One of our city's guiding values is lifelong learning. In the 21st-century economy, some form of post-high school education or training is essential. Today's young adult must have specific skills to earn a wage that will support a family. In financial terms, the young adult without a college degree will earn a million dollars less over his or her lifetime than those who have a degree, and that gap is only going to grow.
Too many of our children aren’t ready for kindergarten on the first day. They've grown up in environments where they've not been spoken or read to as much as their peers. These children face a disadvantage that some manage to overcome, but many don't.
We realized we had to address these issues while also working to understand where business, technology and the economy appear to be headed. We want to encourage people to pursue the kind of degrees and training that will lead to long-term employment here in our community. That's the best outcome - good for individuals, families, neighborhoods and our city as a whole.
Director of Financial Management and Strategic Business AnalysisMetro United Way
What happens when you combine the efforts of a global network of individuals who want to help small business owners with easy to obtain, internet-based microloans with an organization whose mission is to improve lives and our community? Answer: real, measurable change!
At the Kiva City kickoff event in November of last year, Louisville Mayor Fischer said of Kiva, "It's good for the economy, but it's also good for the soul of our city." Kiva Zip provides individuals who want to start a small business access to 0% interest loans funded by individuals passionate about helping entrepreneurs. Mayor Fischer's words strike to the core of the missions of both Kiva and Metro United Way.
Director of Private BankingFifth Third Bank,Kentucky, Inc.
"Living a life driven by purpose is more meaningful and rewarding than meandering through life without direction." I first heard Bob McDonald, now the retired Chairman and CEO of Procter and Gamble, speak these words at a United Way luncheon in Cincinnati in 2010, and I really took his message to heart. So much so, that I have that phrase posted in my office and I look at it every day.
At that time in 2009, I was a young banker trying to establish "purpose" in my professional, personal, and civic life. Thanks to strong mentors, influencers, and my girlfriend (now wife) in my life, I felt good about my professional and personal life; however, my civic life was a mess. Unfortunately, my civic engagements had become too numerous and cluttered, and my ability to add value to these great organizations was limited. There wasn't any intentionality in what I was doing to serve my community.
Chief Possibility Officer, President & CEOFamily Scholar House
As summer ends and a new school year gets underway, I have something to confess. Each September, I find myself drawn to the school supply aisle in every store, enticed by the packages of fresh pencils, clean notebooks, and miscellaneous compasses and protractors. I love the new beginning that comes with each school year and the opportunity for each student to realize his/her potential through education and knowledge. Since all of the single parents in the residential program at Family Scholar House are working toward their educational goals, as are their children, a new school year can be a fresh start for everyone.
e-Communications & Website ManagerMetro United Way
Leading up to becoming a father nine months ago, it seemed that everyone had tips, advice and words of wisdom. I accepted these with the full knowledge that until I was a father, I wouldn't truly know what I was in for. And understandably, that led to a lot of nervous excitement. Similarly, I started my job at Metro United Way in July of 2014 without truly knowing what I was in for. Until I immersed myself in the crucial work of MUW, I didn't truly understand what changing the odds for our kids and families meant. I also didn't realize that having a baby and working at Metro United Way would create such a profound connection to and passion for the work.
Youth Services Manager,Louisville FreePublic Library
This year my son, Sam, will start kindergarten. His feelings about this are equal parts excitement and uncertainty. Starting kindergarten is a big deal - in fact, I feel it's one of life's great transitions. Children often leave the comfortable environments they have known their short lives and are introduced to new settings, people, and ideas. Therefore, it is important to celebrate this rite of passage and make sure our children are prepared and enthusiastic about their new journey.
On Friday, June 19, we joined thousands of citizens across the country to celebrate National Summer Learning Day. We pledged then and every day to #KeepKidsLearning.
Why? Because we believe that 59 organizations in Louisville providing summer learning programs at 160 locations to thousands of youth can make an impact in our community, especially with those who struggle to keep up.