2017-03-29

Written by our Learning From Leader Guests! Danae Davis, Executive Director, Milwaukee Succeeds and Marcus White, Vice President, Civic Engagement, Greater Milwaukee Foundation



From Danae Davis, Executive Director, Milwaukee Succeeds
Last Friday Marcus White, Vice President, Civic Engagement; Greater Milwaukee Foundation and I had the opportunity to spend the morning with City Year corps members. City Year is a wonderful organization of AmeriCorps that like Milwaukee Succeeds, is committed to every Milwaukee child succeeding in school and life. I love spending time with our youth to get their perspectives, while also sharing my outlook and experiences with them as well. I am in awe when I see people come together with the same mission and see how it impacts our children. Marcus White is here to share his experience with the City Year group. Thank you Marcus and countless individuals in our community that are tirelessly working to ensure our youth succeed cradle to career!

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From Marcus White, Vice President, Civic Engagement, Greater Milwaukee Foundation

 
I have seen the future, and I can hardly wait! What an honor it was to join Danae at the City Year “Learning from Leaders” session last Friday. 100 City Year corps members were gathered for conversation and team-building. Danae and I had the opportunity to share our perspectives on building work teams, and how our life experiences have shaped our careers, and our views.
 
Most meaningful for me was the discussion with corps members. Our community is vibrant with a wave of young adults who are passionate about justice, equity and opportunity for all, and service. Where in recent years there may have been a more top-down sense of “charity” about community-focused work, today’s cohort of City Year (and other AmeriCorps and National Community Service programs) has far more of a “solidarity” vibe. City Year, and other programs, truly works alongside students, co-creating a promising future for us all.
 
During discussion I was asked to elaborate on a comment I made about trying to be thoughtful about my most appropriate role as a white man who cares about racial justice. I shared that for a long time I have believed that some of us are most effective as allies, and not necessarily the leaders of an effort. In more recent years I have also come to believe that what it means to be an ally, what that role looks like, isn’t always up to me. Sometimes, this means being patient; always it means that we need to ensure as best we can that we are listening for what may or may not be needed from us.
 
One of City Year’s core values is “Ubuntu”, the South African belief that “I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours." It is in this spirit that City Year works with students. They know that when a student succeeds, we are all elevated. Just as tragedies and injustices reduce us all and lessen our shared sense of who we are as a people, the wins that City Year helps bring to life creates a stronger community, one where we all feel a sense of a shared future.
 
Partners like City Year are how the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and Milwaukee Succeeds move toward the goals we all share for our community. The inspiration they provide doesn’t benefit only the students they work with every day, it benefits me, too!

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