I am Stephanie, and am currently serving at Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA). We are located in the heart of Detroit, across from Grand Circus Park. We’re right behind Comerica Park, and, at times, I have thought about catching a ball (or two)…should it make it to our fire escape.
I am engaged in several programs centering on workforce development, reducing unemployment, and taking assessment of the workforce sector. The project began by creating an asset map of all workforce development organizations and support services in Detroit. After that, we began conducting needs assessments to find where we could best help build capacity within those organizations – with the ultimate goal of getting more Detroiters employed!
In the actual moment, we are working on strategic planning - how best to support the current goals of those working on the unemployment rate in Detroit, and via direct service, fill any gaps that may be needed. Along with this, I have been focused on unemployment and poverty rates of special populations – veterans and people recently released from the criminal justice system.
The ultimate end sight goal, is to impact poverty through unemployment levels. The more Detroiters who are at work and have a stable income, the more impact there is on poverty in Detroit.
To meet our team’s goals, and in order to best serve as a VISTA, I have been seeking out chances for growth. I was able to complete the VISTA Blend Course on Grant Writing and Fundraising, which gave insight into the grant process, and gave me skills on how to write and research grants in an effective manner.
Our VISTA team has partnered with the Detroit Jobs Alliance (DJA) in parts of their operating groups (OGs). Recently, one of our OGs held an event for small business owners, community based organizations, and workforce organizations to strategize on how to best help small business owners and job seekers in Detroit. It was a wonderful event, and I was happy to be part of planning and executing the event.
Through my service and engagement in projects, I have helped connect organizations to each other, and understand that poverty and unemployment is not a one cause issue. There are multiple layers and barriers for each individual. Part of addressing this is learning what barriers need to be overcome, what resources are available, what perpetuates poverty and unemployment in the region, and what can be done to move more people towards economic stability.
The city of Detroit is going through a rebirth. I am happy to be part of a project that sets a foundation and has the potential to help so many, at a time when the city is making great strides. When I look back now at what has been accomplished thus far through my VISTA service, I am amazed over what has been accomplished and what is still yet to come! I am looking forward to the last final months of my service and having the most impact I can.
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!