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Data, investments and collaboration on behalf of children

At A Glance is a bi-weekly news recap highlighting WKKF grantees, investments, communities and partnerships.

Jackson Public Schools (JPS) in Jackson, Mississippi, is using the Reconstruction platform to deliver personalized and in-depth teaching tailored to the Black experience to 50 kindergarteners. The platform addresses the struggles of traditional education to discuss Black contributions to American and world history in an accurate, identity-affirming way. Reconstruction helps all students see themselves differently – in school and in life. One key component to the kindergarten reading curriculum is the use of oral language games to help students explore the relationship between letters and sounds to ultimately blend sounds into syllables and words. As the platform’s first learners, Jackson kindergartners’ experience will guide JPS as they determine its use to reach more students.

Hats off to WKKF MRI investee Illumen Capital as they recently announced closure of their first fund with over $85 million in committed capital. Their strategy: Effectively coach their investment managers to root out implicit and explicit racial bias to increase returns. They believe this type of training can reframe investment decisions, shape hiring and board selection, and ultimately drive value.

Design Week Mexico is in progress, and Ensamble Artesano is a prominent ‘socially responsible’ feature, recently mentioned in several publications, including Forbes México. Ensamble Artesano is a platform that emerged from 36 organizations coming together to help Mexican artisans sustain their work through difficult economic times, with support from WKKF. This month the collaborative launched a vast online store, selling a rich collection of art and textiles.  

When Governor Whitmer signed a package of criminal justice reform bills into law, Michigan became the third state in the country to automatically expunge criminal records with the most expansive clean slate policy in the country. Clean Slate took form in Pennsylvania through the efforts of a coalition involving WKKF grantee Community Legal Services, Inc. Safe and Just Michigan partnered with a cross-sector statewide group of reform and justice-impacted organizations, victims’ rights advocates and business leaders to raise awareness. The new Michigan law will automatically expunge misdemeanors seven years after sentencing and felonies 10 years after sentencing or release from incarceration. 

In Haiti, Mirebalais University Hospital, operated by WKKF grantee Zanmi Lasante, has received accolades for its state of the art design, holistic perinatal programming, prestigious global accreditation as a teaching hospital, and most recently COVID-19 preparedness. Finally, this fall, Haiti’s newspaper of record, Le Nouvelliste, ran a front-page feature about the hospital’s “first-rate” medical residency program.

Can data drive community understanding and improve civic decision making? That’s what a number of Michigan-based grantees, including the City of Grand Rapids, are working to determine. Digging into a new report, Economic Inclusion in Grand Rapids Data Update created by the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University and funded by WKKF, partners across the city are mining data about shifts in economic inclusion between 2014 and 2018 in the city’s Neighborhoods of Focus, as the basis for targeted economic, educational and environmental programs to support communities in the city. The baseline data will also serve as the city’s starting point to measure progress and change as it embeds equity throughout government operations.

Heather McCulloch, executive director of Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap (CWWG), a WKKF grantee, recently wrote for Fast Company, “As long as women of color, who are positioned to be the majority of the U.S. workforce by 2060, are severely underrepresented in the tech sector, the benefits of this job growth will be uneven. Advancing women of color in the technology workforce—specifically Black, Latina and Native women who are being left behind—is both a moral and an economic imperative.” McCulloch and team at CWWG are focused on drawing attention to the historic drivers of gaps as well as barriers that remain today. Their goal is to lift up solutions that break down systemic barriers and expand opportunity for low-income women and women of color to build wealth.

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