As you know, we applied for the MacArthur100&Change grant last fall asking for $100 million in support of taking our education, workforce development, community development, and industrial retention system to scale in Cook County. We made the first cut meeting the criteria that our program was “meaningful”, verifiable and supported by evidence, durable and scalable—not blue sky, and our finances were in order and appropriately presented. We were part of the 800 taken to the next stage out of the 1,904 that initially applied internationally.
Unfortunately, MR was not selected as one of the 8 semi-finalists announced earlier last week, but we are nevertheless pleased with how we stood up in the competition. 413 expert judges, from a variety of fields, reviewed the applications, with 5 assigned to each proposal. Here are some of the comments on ours
- This proposal is bold in the way it seeks to bring about a paradigm shift in the way in which the manufacturing sector relates to the labor force and the communities in which they reside. It has the potential to reinforce the value of grounding manufacturing operations within engaged communities.
- As the election just demonstrated most visibly, this is a huge issue and opportunity. The focus on manufacturing is timely and in success can result in significant impact
- The proposal is bold in addressing the need for increasing manufacturing and manufacturing related jobs and in focusing on disenfranchised persons of color and formerly incarcerated individuals. In particular, beginning the process at the middle school level where so many are lost in the educational process.
- The idea is grounded in proven experience in two other countries as well as in the experience of the applicant organization
- The metrics demonstrate both success of the program and also provide a means of tracking impact
- The program has had reasonable success in the past with intent to expand upon proven process.
- The solution, if successful appears to have staying power because success can be expected to drive private sector investment into strengthening this model.
A concern held by some of the judges was how can such a small organization expand so quickly – financially going from a $1.3 million budget to $125 million, a staff growing from 13 to 200 and achieve a dramatic program expansion in only five years? The answer is: it’s all about partnerships. Our objective is not to build Manufacturing Renaissance into a large regional/national organization, but to recruit others to join our effort, share responsibilities and resources and take concrete steps toward systemic change. This includes government agencies, education providers, community based organizations, the labor movement, private businesses and others. For example, our Instructor’s Apprenticeship for Advanced Manufacturing was advanced by MR and is now fully financed and staffed by the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation. Same way, we presented the Conversion Project and the Safer Foundation has agreed to play a leading role and serve as the fiscal sponsor.
For Manufacturing Renaissance it’s all about creating an educational infrastructure to scale to meet both the needs of the manufacturing sector and of our communities. It’s not just about building a single organization. We had already started the process of scaling our approach in Cook County before the announcement of the MacArthur challenge. It gave us the opportunity to focus even more our attention and accelerate our work. So far.
- We’ve assembled a great team of advisors and partners, thanks to which we are now expanding our Manufacturing Connect program into other schools;
- We’ve initiated the Instructor’s Apprenticeship for Advanced Manufacturing with the Chicago Teacher’s Union Foundation, NIMS, the Technology & Manufacturing Association, and Daley College;
- We are forming a partnership with the Safer Foundation, the Chicago Federation of Labor, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to address the challenge of ownership succession;
- We are strengthening the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council;
- We’ve raised the bar;
- We are developing partnerships with several community organizations that provide up-front training so more community residents can take advantage of our training program; and
- We are methodically and strategically educating opinion leaders and targeted elected officials about the incredible potential of our work
I thought the whole MacArthur initiative was great. It challenged the field to think big and to think in terms of systemic changes. Manufacturing Renaissance jumped in the opportunity, making us a now stronger organization and network of partners.
As Carmen Curet of the Chicago Teacher’s Union Foundation says, “Go big or go home” and we’re not going home. We’re just getting started.
Thanks to each of you for your involvement and support. We’ll keep you informed.
With warm regards,