The L.N. Leadership Team designed this program as a route for talent in the region to get connected to leadership opportunities in the community. We know, though, that this means more than just a day of volunteering. We offer professional development opportunities, connections to Board Development, opportunities to have conversations with civic and business leaders and networking events with the other emerging leader groups in the region. We also will begin having "Activation Sessions" or monthly meetings where we offer routes for involvement- answering the question of "what can I do to get involved or make a difference?"
Stay tuned for more- we're developing and finalizing the calendar a bit more everyday!
I never really gave my professionalism much thought until recently. I was told that my smiling face and kind greetings toward people entering into the workplace really help to inspire a young lady (who was an intern throughout most of the '08 summer.) She said, "Lonnie, seeing your friendly smile and hearing your warm greetings everyday made me feel welcome and I thank you for your inspiring words of encourgement."
Those sincere words which she shared with me really made me feel good. I am glad and truly blessed to have a job like this one. To me, United Way means: United we must remain and the Way to exist in good rapport is to 'Live United'! I am a witness that our mobilizing caring power does begin at home.
I went to the Circulation Desk at the library at WSU and asked if there were any umbrellas in the lost & found. Naturally there weren't. So I headed back outside, zipped up all my zippers, buttoned up all my buttons, and headed out. By the time I got to my car I was drenched. My umbrella was warm and dry though, as it had been resting comfortably on my passenger seat.
Before I made it to the highway I got stopped at a light on a corner that is always occupied by a homeless person. It's not always the same person, but there is always someone there. Tonight it was a middle-aged man, huddling underneath his rag of a coat, trying to use his sign for shelter without obstructing its message asking for help. He looked miserable.
I rolled down my window and his head perked up. I yelled to him, "Hey, want an umbrella?" He cracked a big smile and said, "Yeah! It's been raining for three days!" I handed my umbrella to him through the open car window. He opened it up and started jumping around, almost dancing, saying, "Yeah! YEAH!" Then my light turned green, I smiled and waved, and hit the highway. I was mostly dry by the time I got home.
A few days later I went to the thrift store to buy a replacement umbrella. It cost $2.11. Since I work for United Way 2-1-1, I took that as a sign that the powers that be supported my umbrella donation.
The following Wednesday on my way home from class I saw the same guy sitting at that same intersection, only it wasn't raining. He recognized me while I was stopped at the red light, pointed down to the umbrella sticking out of his bag, and smiled at me. I waved back. I smiled almost the whole way home.
Who knew an old umbrella could mean so much? Little things mean a lot more when you can fit everything you own into an old gym bag. Maybe someday he'll be in a position to give that umbrella to someone else who needs it more than he does. That's what I hope at least.
How, then, did we come to the development of a government whereby only those who can afford to campaign (that is, are already wealthy) are the only ones who are elected into governmental offices? Do the monetarily "wealthy" truly represent the majority?
Let's restore the government "of the people".
The highlight of the Olympics was the phenomenal performance of Michigander Michael Phelps as he pulled the US into first place with his supercharged swimming. No one could foresee, given the team's position when they started, that the US team would become gold medal champions. But they did. The team was not discouraged by their position. They were energized by their goal. I submit that Detroit Public School system is in the same position.
We could spend time talking about the shortcomings and failures of the DPS system, but that's been done and that doesn't get us the gold. What will get us the gold will be focusing on our goal and the strategy to get it. You could call the United Way for Southeastern Michigan the coach for this feat. UWSEM, through the efforts of Mike Tenbusch, initiated the One D Dropout Prevention summit this spring, which brought together the people who are needed to make a team that can bring home the gold for students in metro Detroit. Players included students, parents, community leaders, unions, local and state boards of education and superintendents, most notably, Dr. Connie Calloway and the governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm. The players were able to talk with and share ideas with educators who had attained the gold in Boston, Chicago and New York. Teams from these cities were already winning the race for 21st century education. Across the board their graduation rates are increasing. Who better to learn from than winners?
UWSEM plays a crucial role, facilitating fundraising to the tune of $24 million dollars a year for the transformation of schools. The Skillman Foundation will also offer a $10 million dollar venture fund for schools in the process of ending their "dropout factory" status. While UWSEM is not in the process of "taking over DPS" as some have said, UWSEM is definitely in the business of being a critical player in the transformation of the DPS system.
What is the gold/goal?
The gold/goal: 80% graduation rate within 5 years.
1) Change conditions: principals are autonomous and accountable. Schools are smaller. The same teachers and classmates remain together throughout high school.
2) Increase capacity: school districts and unions partner with programs with proven turnaround rates to chart the strategy for gold in metro Detroit.
3) Create clusters: schools collaborate, creating an environment conducive to achievement and safety while working together to determine and emulate best practices for a dropout turnaround.
So when you hear someone downing DPS or Dr. Calloway, please share with them the goals for the gold. No, the race won't be easy, painless or simple...but we CAN win it! Get supercharged! We're going for the gold!
The annual United Way Staff Leaders Conference is winding to an end in Pittsburgh as I type this. I love the SLC... not only is it a great opportunity to learn about new and emerging trends in the United Way system, but it is an excellent networking opportunity. There are over 9,000 folks working for United Way in this country and we try to connect as much as possible - listservs, phone calls, emails, webinars, newsletters, etc. But nothing can replace actually meeting a person face-to-face.Those who know me might think that last statement out of character. I live a lot of my life online. And it's not just a hobby, it's what they pay me to do here at United Way for Southeastern Michigan - find ways to connect to folks through online tools. Yet the longer I spend researching and implementing new tools, the more I realize that the power of what connects us online is what it can do for us IRL (In Real Life for those of you that don't speak txtspk). This really came to light for me on Tuesday morning. Read More »