Coffee with a Purpose

“It’s essential to encourage youth to use their voice for good. It’s equally essential to have productive conversations where we listen, understand, and take appropriate actions to ensure an equal and great future for all of Michigan’s youth.” – from Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates equality statement.

By way of taking action, “Coffee with a Purpose” was created; virtual conversations exploring a range of youth education and employment related topics with guest speakers who share our passion for Michigan’s young people. By giving youth this platform and encouraging them to use their voice for good, these productive conversations will enable us to listen, understand, and take appropriate actions to ensure an equal and great future for all of Michigan’s youth.

Coffee with a Purpose
Striving for Racial Equity: Youth Call to Action
Part 3 of a 3-Part Webinar Series

In this session, three Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates panelists provided us with action steps to move toward a more equitable world. A compiled list of these actions can be found here. The Youth Solutions team will hold ourselves accountable for participating in these suggestions, and we hope you will too. If you were unable to attend, we encourage you to watch the recording, read the action steps, and share with your network.

Meet the Panelists:

  • Tekeidra Masters, Benton Harbor High School Class of ’20, 2020 Midwest Regional Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and a current student at Valparaiso University.
  • Delann Pillivant, returning panelist, Pershing High School Class of ’20, and a current student at the University of Michigan.
  • Dominque Clay, JMG Specialist recovering out of school youth through GST Michigan Works!

Coffee with a Purpose, Striving for Racial Equity: Youth Voice on Education and Employment

Part 2 of a 3-Part Series

“Our silence says a lot…Your silence says something to the people who are negatively impacted.” Nygil Likely, Vice President of Student Affairs at Lake Michigan College expressed as a panelist on September 30, for part 2 of our series on Striving for Racial Equity. In this session, JMG youth, Avery Burch, Julius Draughan, and Karla Robles, shared their frustration that opportunities don’t always exist for youth of color and spoke about the biases they face in education, on the job, and in everyday life. Brian McKinney, Owner and CEO of Gayanga Co., panelist, and JMG employer partner stated, “We have to be the example.” For change to occur, we most certainly do. Within the discussion was also hope, as Avery stated, “Each generation is going to make the world a better place.”

Co-moderators, Kristin Harrington, Executive Director of Youth Solutions, and Camille Pierce, former Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion with Whirlpool Corporation, led the discussion and added to the conversation with their own thoughts and experiences.

If you missed this opportunity to listen, we encourage you to watch the recording.

Coffee with a Purpose, Striving for Racial Equity: Youth Perspectives, Concerns, and Calls to Action

Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

On August 13, we began the conversation “Striving for Racial Equity,” the first of a three-part series focused on racial inequities that plague our nation. A panel of two JMG Specialists, Stacey Brown-Smith and Amanda Althouse along with three outstanding Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) youth; Tamia Clay, Mikya Coleman and David Carter Jr., shared their perspectives, personal stories, concerns and ideas for moving toward racial equity. Kristin Harrington, Youth Solutions Executive Director and Deborah Taylor, Workforce Program Manager at Southeast Michigan Community Alliance, led this engaging and eye-opening conversation.

During the discussion, Tamia expressed, education is the building block for all change and these conversations are how education happens. Our youth’s powerful stories spoke to the inequalities faced and expressed the need for people to understand the challenges of growing up as a person of color in America. As Mikya explained, “we have to fight to prove who we are and work a lot harder because of our skin color.”

If you were unable to join us, we encourage you to watch the recording of the conversation and listen to the voices of our youth. We hope by watching and listening, you are impacted by the discussion and gain new insights and perspectives to carry forward to help facilitate change.

Did you miss the first Coffee with a Purpose?

June 24 was our first listening event in our newly created virtual series, “Coffee with a Purpose.”  Youth Solutions Executive Director, Kristin Harrington, was joined by JMG Specialists; Danny Jennings, Carolyn Miller, and Meagan Staton, and their exceptional young people; Michael (Mike) Kirby, Delann Pillivent, and Kyra Gibson to discuss the topic, COVID-19: The Pandemic’s Impact on Michigan Youth. Their inspirational stories and powerful voices spoke to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as looking to the future and making their mark. Our youth expressed the need for adults to understand the new challenges of social isolation, the difficulties of pivoting to online learning, and the loss of extra curricular activities.

“Some things we value have been taken away from us or put on hold, like sports or hanging with friends,” stated Mike, a rising junior at Benton Harbor High School. As a testament to his persistence, he continued, “We will all exit the pandemic stronger and wiser.”

Delann, Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Class of 2020 and incoming freshman at the University of Michigan stated during the conversation, “We are the future. You guys should pay attention to us.” Yes, Delann, we most definitely should, which is why we created this platform to listen.

We encourage you to watch the recording of the conversation and listen to the voices of our youth.