Fall 2018 Message from the President
Playing the Long Game
The economy touches everything in a community: its infrastructure, its education, its quality of life, its people’s livelihoods. At the Community Foundation we approach multifaceted problems with multifaceted solutions — all paved with ingenuity, effort, and time. At the heart of our mission is people and the talent they possess: Their passions, skills, and ideas become the lifeblood and the future of our community. As you’ll read in the talent story of the Fall 2018 newsletter, the Community Foundation is playing a long game.
Education and the Talent Pipeline
The Community Foundation is the home of the Head Start Innovation Fund, an $11 million effort that seeks to recruit and retain qualified early childhood educators, attract more Head Start-eligible families, and share data and program evaluation for nearly 9,000 children. The Head Start Innovation Fund is working to address the talent pipeline problem for this system by promoting early childhood education jobs to new markets such as men and millennials.
In all stages of economic growth, there is a need to cultivate talent. We’re supporting the SME Education Foundation’s work establishing cutting-edge manufacturing education centers of excellence in three of our region’s high schools. In 2014, manufacturing jobs accounted for 49 percent of the total jobs in Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties. Thanks to the SME Education Foundation — which works with local employers to identify skills gaps — the students of southeast Michigan will be better prepared to succeed.
Attracting and Developing New Talent
The New Economy Initiative works to both attract new talent to southeast Michigan and to bolster the capacity of the local entrepreneurs who are already here. Because of NEI’s work with startup fellowship program Venture for America, the city of Detroit has more Venture for America fellows working for local startups than any other city in the country. Since its inception in 2007, NEI has contributed more than $110 million to support entrepreneurs and small businesses. Sometimes, these businesses are in flashy arenas, like tech; sometimes, they’re in reliable industries like mechanics. A solid community needs both.
Another program, the Hacker Fellows Program, encourages talented young people to go into business and promote the economic development of southeast Michigan. This year a grant was provided to grow the availability of entrepreneurial talent in competitive-edge technology sectors. As of last summer, all Hacker Fellows have been hired by Michigan startups, most of them in southeast Michigan.
There are always more opportunities to develop talent. We look forward to continuing to give our young people, local entrepreneurs, and those outside our region the support necessary to succeed and contribute to our community.
Mariam C. Noland