My name is Jaylen Harris. I am an AmeriCorps VISTA serving the Michigan Nonprofit Association. I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. I am a recent graduate of University of Michigan, where I majored in Psychology with a minor in Community Action Social Change. I am currently looking to enroll in an Urban Planning or Business Administration Program to obtain my Master degree.
As for my work as a VISTA, the team has been working to improve the economy of Detroit. Our VISTA Assignment Description outlined three areas for us to center our work around; 1. Reduce the employment rate in Detroit, 2. Increase access to entrepreneurship in Detroit, 3. Improve the physical conditions in Detroit that limit economic growth. At the start of my VISTA year of service, the three team members who began their service 6 months earlier had begun conducting a needs assessment of various workforce development agencies around Detroit. The purpose of this needs assessment was to understand the needs within their organization in order for them to continue functioning at an optimal level or to improve the overall efficiency and maximize outcomes. Some of the top needs identified were regarding staffing capacity, funding capacity, outreach and sector activity. After conducting all interviews and reviewing the findings, we then created individualized service plans for these organizations. The length and scope of how we will add capacity are personalized for each, but all are addressing similar needs found within the workforce development sector. We are currently in the process of entering each of these workforce development agencies to help add capacity, where we capable and willing.
Through my work as a VISTA I have gained great and valuable experience. I have also had the chance to network with many individuals in a variety of positions within the workforce development sector. For this opportunity I am very grateful, as I believe it will be a great tool for me, not only in the immediate but also distant future. This type of work really resonates with me, because I come from a city that has many of the same characteristics and requires the same type of attention from officials and stakeholders, as well as engagement within the community. Envisioning a more prosperous city 10-15 years from now that provides more opportunity for adults and youth, is what is what motivates me. I am very excited and eager to see what the year 2015 hold for the remainder of my VISTA year of service!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!