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For Good

United Way joins national network to fight poverty

United Way of Greater Cincinnati was recently chosen to join the Aspen Institute Ascend Network, a group of leading organizations seeking to lift struggling families out of poverty through a two-generational approach. 

UWGC will receive a $25,000 grant and work through Partners for a Competitive Workforce to develop a program targeted to increase the number of women working in advanced manufacturing careers and involve their children in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning. 

“One of the principles of the Ascend Network is to create an environment where family self-sufficiency becomes tradition,” says Janice Urbanik, Partners for a Competitive Workforce executive director. “The focus they’re taking is to help provide services to both the parent and child instead of having more focus on one than the other.” 

Only 35 percent of Americans would encourage their children to pursue careers in manufacturing, despite the benefits, according to surveys by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. Also, just 20 percent of women who work in manufacturing think enough is being done to promote work to women and girls, particularly K-12.

UWGC is looking to build awareness for mothers and expand their skill sets to be eligible for better-paying jobs in the manufacturing industry by giving them basic career awareness where they can learn about the types of skills needed to be successful. Mothers can then go through a series of assessments that identifies their cognitive skills in math and reading. If they meet the minimum criteria, they can enroll in a nationally recognized certified technician program and pursue a job upon completion. 

Children will be educated on the pathways they can take and experience Gateway programs and partnerships. Students will see what the manufacturing industry is like and experience the possibilities of a career in that field, and there are a series of camps that will engage students in hands-on, authentic programs. UWGC plans to test whether a child’s interest and participation in STEM-related programs are affected by their mother’s career in that field. 

“The ability for children to witness their parents engaging in new learning impacts their ability to connect and learn,” says Melissa Sommer, the Brighton Center’s workforce development director. “The impact of [the two-generational approach] is far-reaching and one of the best opportunities they have to change their family tree.”

UWGC, along with more than 50 other organizations, plans to assist both generations to move forward and break the poverty cycle.

“What we’re working to do is create experiences where the community comes together to create and support the type of education we need,” says Kathie Maynard, Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative co-convener.

Do Good:

•    ‘Like’ UWGC on Facebook.
•    Follow Ascend at the Aspen Institute on Twitter. 
•    See the complete list of Ascend Network members.

Read more articles by Jayna Morris.

Jayna Morris is a contributing writer and editor for Soapbox. Learn more about her at www.jaynabarker.weebly.com.
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