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Positive strides in children’s health, paid leave and economic growth

Summer’s out but WKKF is back in class with everyone’s favorite first grade teacher, Tyler James Williams. The Abbott Elementary star will join WKKF’s La June Montgomery Tabron on Friday, June 30, to talk about the importance of early childhood education at the 2023 ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ presented by Coca-Cola®. It’s one of three stages we’re hosting at the festival’s Global Black Economic Forum. Be sure to also tune in Sunday, July 2 to hear our I am New Orleans partners discuss building Black wealth and on Friday, June 30 our Haiti Pockets of Hope panelists talk about why investing in local systems is key to creating a sustainable economy. Catch these conversations live at Essence or virtually.

Routine visits to the pediatrician’s office in the first few years of a child’s life help parents get support and tools to nurture their children’s health and their social and emotional development. It is also an opportunity for physicians to better understand their patients’ lives and challenges, and to improve their practices and approaches – especially true with low-income and diverse families who have had variable experiences with doctors in the past. That’s the premise behind Pediatrics Supporting Parents, an initiative supported by WKKF and several other funders that was recently featured in Inside Philanthropy. A key element of the approach is “centering families in the work and facilitating the racial healing journey of clinical systems to better support families experiencing the worst health outcomes,” said WKKF Program Officer Monica Beltran. The story also highlighted the efforts of additional grantees including the Center for the Study of Social Policy and HealthConnect One.

According to a recent survey, 64% of Americans believe it is necessary for employers to provide at least 12 weeks of paid parental leave to both primary and secondary caregiving workers to promote workplace gender equity. But only about one in 10 companies has such a policy, according to a report by research nonprofit JUST Capital. The report indicated some progress, though: 9% of the largest companies are now offering at least 12 weeks of paid parental leave, which is up from 6% in 2022.

More than one million people lost Medicaid coverage in recent months – primarily for having incomplete paperwork – as some states have cut health care coverage following the pandemic. This alarming loss of coverage could disproportionately affect children, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that predicted these cuts last year. States are supposed to do a review of those who are eligible, but many are falling behind. “If states are already behind in processing renewals, that’s going to snowball over time,” said Tricia Brooks, research professor at WKKF grantee the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families in The Associated Press.

WKKF grantee Automation Workz, a cybersecurity boot camp that helps people of color access careers in the tech industry, has launched a new initiative. The goal is to help more Black people in the Battle Creek and West Michigan region access high-paying tech careers and assist employers in filling industrial technology jobs. The West Michigan African American Tech Readiness Collaborative will help ensure that as the tech industry grows, local residents gain economic opportunities to better support their families.

Northern Initiatives, a nonprofit lender and Michigan-based WKKF grantee, provides support to start-ups and small businesses by making loans when for-profit financial institutions won’t. In addition, they provide education and coaching to entrepreneurs. They have helped many entrepreneurs of color grow small businesses, including the owners of GRNoir in Grand Rapids and Pop’s Family Kitchen in Battle Creek.

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