Wes Moore: Inclusive, Broad and Transparent Conversations Matter

Taking Michigan’s Center Stage, renowned social advocate Wes Moore, CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation and best-selling author of “The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters,” shared his personal journey from poverty to dedicating his life to improving the lives of underprivileged youth and veterans. Moore explained that inclusion is the first step to shrink the opportunity gap and enhance quality of life in communities that feel left behind.

Key Takeaways:

  • With various instances of public discourse between police and minority youth in the country, it is important to acknowledge and understand the state of the neighborhoods these instances are taking place in. If the context in which this discourse exists in is not understood, then the real changes that are needed will not be made.
  • Innovation and change is happening faster than we can realize, but for an individual that lives in underserved communities in Michigan or the country, he or she cannot tell.
  • It is important to never forget about who it is that we need to fight for and who it is we need to be remembering because there will never be inclusive conversations if only a sliver of the population’s voices are heard.
  • When decisions are made for the future of Michigan’s neighborhoods–inclusive, broad and transparent conversations matter.
  • Communities should feel a sense of inclusion and that they are part of important conversations.
  • Poverty is a function of systemic action and choice. It was not one action that led to it, therefore it will not take one action to solve it. A collection of entities is needed to address these issues and if government and philanthropy come together, solutions can be found.
  • When looking at education in impoverished communities, the quality of kids’ education and access to opportunity must be first and foremost when decisions are made.

“There is not a single issue that the folks in this room could not make something happen on. There’s that level of influence, power and significance here,” Moore told Conference attendees. “The future of Michigan will not be bright unless we are being very deliberate about what it means for areas like Flint, and areas like Saginaw and the Upper Peninsula and Detroit.”

Following Moore’s keynote address, Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor for the Detroit Free Press, joined him on stage for a one-on-one conversation. This session was sponsored by PNC Bank and falls under the Conference pillar of increasing economic opportunity.

Businesses Sought to Provide Jobs for Boys and Young Men of Color at Career Summit

By Daniel Lai

Building on its effort to grow the region’s economy and connect young people with jobs and sustainable career pathways, the Detroit Regional Chamber, together with My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and Mayor Mike Duggan, are recruiting regional businesses to pledge employment opportunities and/or career training for boys and young men of color.

The goal is to sign up business partners who are committed to provide 250 jobs for hire on-site during the Pathways to Success Career Summit on Nov. 14 at Cobo Center.

“This program is about creating real opportunity, which is something we really haven’t done enough of,” Duggan said during a recruitment meeting with local, state and national companies at city hall last week.

In addition, the Summit brings together HR representatives and career coaches to provide everything from resume writing workshops and interview prep to free haircuts and tips on how to properly tie a necktie.

“In the era that we’re living in now, the importance of business being involved in the solutions for these young people is critical,” said Blair Taylor, CEO of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. “Providing jobs gets someone into a position of economic viability — managing money and responsibility — but also turns these young people into positive role models for others to follow.”

Taylor said there are 5.5 million young people ages 18-24 across the United States that are currently not working and not attending school.

“That is the biggest issue of our time. You can’t take 5.5 million people out of this economy and thrive,” he said.

Tammy Carnrike, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s chief operating officer, said partnering with the Mayor and My Brother’s Keeper is a natural extension of the Chamber’s effort to grow opportunity in the region and infuse the talent pipeline with a qualified workforce.

“We have employers looking to hire. Matching talent to employer needs is what is going to help us continue the momentum in Detroit and Michigan,” she said.

Pointing to the success of Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT), a summer employment initiative led by Duggan that helped provide jobs to 8,000 young people this past summer, Carnrike said the business community in the Detroit region is hungry for talent.

Samantha Green, human resources manager for Applebees, said the company participated in GDYT and ended up hiring five employees at the end of the summer. Green said the experience was very positive and Applebees is looking forward to hiring more young people at the Pathways to Success Career Summit.

“We’re very excited to get involved. Our restaurant managers had nothing but positive things to say about our previous hires through these employment opportunities,” she said.

For more information on signing up for the Pathways to Success Career Summit, contact Robert Troutman, director of education and talent programs, at rtroutma@detroitchamber.com or 313.596.0478.