Skills Gap: A Moral and Economic Crisis

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Darren Timmeney, Market Manager and Community President of Chase Bank in Southwest Michigan. Darren also serves on the board of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo.

JP Morgan Chase Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, recently addressed the skills gap in an article posted on LinkedIn.  In it, he shares the importance of making sure that all students graduate from high school, prepared for what comes next, and the implications when too many of our students don’t. Here in Kalamazoo, we have tremendous opportunities for our high school graduates in college and career, yet, we still have students who are not in position to take advantage of those opportunities. However, through the work of Kalamazoo Public Schools, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo and its many partners and volunteers, as well as the investment that local donors, funders, and businesses are making in helping youth succeed, we are on the path to creating brighter futures for all students.

The Skills Gap Is a Moral and Economic Crisis

by Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The path to a successful future begins at a young age. But economic opportunity is increasingly out of reach for millions of young people. In fact, 71% of today’s youth (ages 17–24) are ineligible for the military due to a lack of proper education (basic reading or writing skills) or health issues (often obesity or diabetes). Without the right skills or education, they find themselves stuck in low-skill, low-wage jobs or are unemployed.

It’s a moral and economic crisis that too many young people leave high school without clear pathways to a successful future. We must make it a national priority to help prepare young people to be both personally and professionally successful – especially those who are traditionally overlooked.

In many inner city schools, fewer than 60% of students graduate, and many of those who do graduate are not prepared for employment. We are creating generations of citizens who will never have a chance. Unfortunately, it’s self-perpetuating, and we all pay the price. The subpar academic outcomes of America’s minority and low-income children resulted in yearly GDP losses of trillions of dollars, according to McKinsey & Company.

Getting young people on a pathway to brighter futures in high school and beyond will help them achieve long-term economic success and ultimately positively impact the economic trajectory of the entire country.

JPMorgan Chase is investing over $350 million in skills development around the world. This includes New Skills for Youth, a $75 million, five-year effort to increase dramatically the number of young people who complete career pathways that begin in high school and end with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with good-paying, high-demand jobs. We are also investing in summer youth employment programs that provide young people with meaningful, skills-based summer work.

And today we announced the expansion of The Fellowship Initiative, which helps create economic opportunity for young men of color in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas. Through the right combination of intensive academic, mentoring and leadership training, we are preparing them to take advantage of critical opportunities to get ahead. In fact, this year 117 students completed The Fellowship Initiative and 100 percent of them are graduating from high school. Combined, they have been accepted into over 200 colleges and universities across the country.

While not every business can make this kind of commitment, they can promote other efforts that create economic opportunity. This includes continued on-the-job training and education and create apprenticeships for future workers. They can also encourage partnerships with schools to ensure skills are aligned with employment needs. These investments are good for the long-term vitality of the communities we serve and create pathways to success for their employees and families.

JPMorgan Chase is creating bridges between businesses and communities to support an economy that creates opportunity for future generations. By encouraging business, government and nonprofits to work closely together, we can continue to produce position outcomes and drive entire communities forward.

You can read more about our approach to bridging the skills gap here.

Jamie Dimon’s article originally ran in LinkedIn on June 26, 2017 and you can link to it by going here.

Kalamazoo College Men’s Baseball Team: A Winning Record With Kids

Today we highlight Kalamazoo College Men’s Baseball Team, honored with a 2017 Champ Award. The team’s Champ award was sponsored by Warner, Norcross & Judd. CIS Board member Darren Timmeney presented the award.

Tommy Lasorda once said, “There are three types of baseball players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens.” The young men who make up the Kalamazoo College Baseball Team and choose to volunteer with CIS are the kind who make things happen.

Since January 2013, these players have been stepping up to the plate to support students at Edison Environmental Science Academy, both during the day and as part of the CIS after school program. Students and teachers alike look forward to the players coming each and every week. These young men can be counted on to be present and fully engaged with the students. Step into the school and you might find players serving as tutors, playground friends, and offering classroom support. After school, they might be sharing dinner, conversations, and participating in recess activities with students.

(From left) Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Jake VanAlten, Brent Yelton, Aaron Schwark, Jack Clark, Ian Kobernick, Jack Dynes, Head Coach Mike Ott, and Athletic Director Kristen Smith.

While faithfully serving at Edison, some have gone on to extend support to students at other CIS sites. Phillip Hegwood, CIS After School Coordinator for Woodward School for Technology and Research, says that the two teammates supporting the Woodward students “show their passion and dedication to the students as much as if they were on the field practicing. They give 110% and the students always love when they come to volunteer.”

Edison’s CIS Site Coordinator Keely Novotny and After School Coordinator Stacy Jackson both say that it’s the team’s on-going commitment to building relationships, to mentoring and tutoring that is making a meaningful impact in the lives of the students.

The team’s head coach, Mike Ott, nurtures that sense of commitment, creating an environment in which the Hornets experience success as a team both on and off the field. Although the players maintain a full school schedule and admirable grade point averages, in addition to their baseball practices and games, they make it a priority in their busy schedules to connect with the KPS students. Some players have been that consistent presence since their freshman year and are now seniors, preparing to graduate.

Both school and CIS staff love how the students eagerly anticipate the arrival of the players. Even before the school bell rings to announce the start of day, it’s not uncommon to spot a first grader seeking out the CIS Site Coordinator and ask, “Mrs. Novotny, is Jack coming today?” Each time, she’ll say, “Yes, he’ll be here” and each time, he and all the other players prove her right.

Kalamazoo College Men’s Baseball Team, we thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life.

 

What the CIS Board is Reading

It’s National Reading Month. And just like the other eleven months of the year, Communities In Schools board members are reading. Here’s a peek into what some of them are reading:

 

I am reading My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. She is an Italian author whose true identity is unknown. The novel is part of the Neapolitan Novels set in Italy beginning in the 1950’s.

-Namita Sharma

A Short History of Nearly Everything: Special Illustrated Edition by author Bill Bryson. Also, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene. I enjoy having a couple of different books going at one time and really enjoy learning about science, the expanse of our universe, the cosmos, and oceans. I get to visit and learn more about these places by reading books.

-Darren Timmeney

 

I am reading Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant.

-Kim R. Bloom

 

Just finished American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard. This is a fascinating book that explains the history behind why different parts of our country are different from each other and how it got that way. I’ll bet you can’t guess which of the 11 cultures Michigan belongs to? But it does make sense after you understand the history.

-Bo Snyder

 

I just finished All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I’m currently reading The Big Short by Michael Lewis.

-Susan Einspahr

 

I have read the following books over the last month and recommend each highly:

The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Irin Carmen & Shana Knizhnik. A wonderfully readable biography of a pioneering woman jurist and the challenges of being an attorney in the early 1960’s.

Auggie and Me: Three Wonder Stories by R.J. Palacio. Stories of the experiences of three middle school students whose lives were affected by Auggie Pullman who was the subject of the book WonderBoth books are geared to middle school age students but I enjoyed both stories because of the message of compassion developed in both stories.

Gray Mountain by John Grisham. Another legal thriller focused on the impact of clear top coal mining on the health of the people and environment in the communities where the practice takes place.

The Other Wes Moore:  One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore.  The parallel lives of two black men born within blocks of one another with the same name but with different life outcomes.

The Boys in the Boat:  Nine American and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.  A N.Y. Times best seller about the lives of the University of Washington crew who trained, qualified and eventually won gold in the 1936 Olympic games held in Berlin, Germany before World War II.

-Carolyn H. Williams

 

If you missed the post on what CIS staff are reading, go here. You can look forward to an upcoming post in which we’ll share what CIS volunteers are reading!

 

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