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CFN adds new partners to statewide network

A warm welcome to CFN’s 11 new grant partners! Our statewide network of nonprofit organizations continues to grow…

  • Camp Fire of Central Puget Sound
  • Childhaven
  • Edmonds Community College
  • Family Works
  • Feet First
  • Listen and Talk
  • Master Builders Career Connection
  • Parent Trust for Washington Children
  • Pasco Chamber of Commerce
  • Seattle University Youth Initiative
  • YMCA of Greater Seattle
You can see and connect with all 36 PARTNERS here
If you have questions on how to become a CFN grant partner, or if you know of other nonprofit organizations that would like to participate in Round 2, please contact Ethan Bergerson or Wendy Dore

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Moses Lake High School offers real-life business experience

 

During the Round 1 of forums and statewide survey on “How to improve young adult employment,” support emerged for the idea of bringing back the vocational track in high school and having greater business involvement in our workforce training system.

Debbie Doran-Martinez, Executive Director of the Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce, shared how Moses Lake High School is building critical skills, hands-on business knowledge, and real-life experiences for young adults.

“At Moses Lake High School in the Career and Technical Education Department, they have real business connected to the classroom experience. They not only create a business learning environment, but the students get job experience without being employed.

Classes operate like a business; such as the nation’s only fully functioning cafe for the culinary students. Students build boats during the Manufacturing Technology course and sell them to the public. They operate a latte stand that generates $40,000 a year, as well as a school-based floral shop, catering classes, and a video production studio.

Moses Lake students graduate with real job skills, and I believe all schools can do this.”

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Press Release: Is it time to bring back the vocational track, introduce a training wage?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:  Carrie Shaw (425) 344-1787\

Is it time to bring back the vocational track, introduce a training wage?
Over 2,300 people weigh in on how to fix youth jobs crisis — survey findings show strong support for school vocational training, more state funds and business involvement in job training

Issaquah, Wash. – When it comes to solutions to Washington’s high young adult unemployment rate, respondents to a statewide survey favor increasing state spending for school-based training, reintroducing a vocational track in high school, and greater involvement of private businesses in job training efforts that include a temporary training wage and other incentives, according to findings released today by Community Forums Network (CFN).

The summary and full report, including demographic and geographical breakdowns, are available at www.CommunityForumsNetwork.org

A total of 2,328 people participated in forums or provided feedback through an online survey on “how to improve young adult employment” between May 3 and June 17, 2012. The findings were compiled into a “Where’s the consensus?” Report on Young Adult Employment, and were presented during a joint meeting of the State Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee and the House Labor & Workforce Development Committee on July 23, in Olympia.

“Long term solutions to Washington’s jobs crisis for young adults will mean investments in education and workforce training that can only come through stronger partnerships between the public and private sectors,” said state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, chairwoman of the Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. “The insights from citizens provided in the consensus report from Community Forums Network were very interesting and helpful as we continue to take on the state’s economic challenges.”

Mike Sells, chairman of the state House Labor and Workforce Development Committee, said, “Obviously, those who selected to do the survey recognized the need for greater investment in workforce training and bringing back vocational type training into our schools.” Sells, D-Everett, added, “We do need to adjust our policies accordingly with regards to investments in training, as well as continue to develop strong partnerships with business and labor to find the needed funding to enhance workforce development in this state.”

With a young adult — ages 16 to 24 — employment rate of only 43 percent, Washington state has the 9th lowest rate in the country according to government labor statistics.

State Rep. Judy Warnick, R- Moses Lake, said, “I am encouraged by the survey results that show a strong tendency to see that unemployment solutions for young people are found in education. Increasing opportunities through vocational training and trade schools are an important part of that. I am also pleased by the support shown for a training wage.”

“Everyone has a stake in our future economic health – especially young people,” said Carrie Shaw, executive director for CFN. “There’s a sense of urgency in coming up with solutions to the jobs crisis, and we definitely saw that in the level of participation for this first round of forums and online survey.”

During round 1 of the CFN forums, 25 nonprofit organizations participated including; Association of Washington Business Institute, Boys & Girls Clubs of King County, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), CityClub of Seattle, Compass Housing Alliance, El Centro de la Raza, Solid Ground, TVW, Washington Federation of Independent Schools, and Washington Restaurant Association Education Foundation to name a few.

A complete list of CFN Partners is available at www.CommunityForumsNetwork.org

Survey Highlights

  • When asked what is the one best approach to delivering workforce skills, a plurality of respondents (36 percent) chose “offer vocational track in high school again,” with the second highest choice (29 percent) “provide incentives for businesses to take the lead in providing workforce training.”
  • When asked to choose the “single best approach to increase employment among young adults (age 16 – 24),” (41 percent) a plurality of respondents chose “school-based training and youth development program:  Increase state funding for vocational and technical curriculum, high school internships, apprenticeships and entrepreneurship training,” as their top response.
  • The majority of African Americans, (52 percent) selected “school-based training and youth development program:  Increase state funding for vocational and technical curriculum, high school internships, apprenticeships and entrepreneurship training,” as their top choice, the highest among any ethnic group.
  • 69 percent of respondents supported the idea of a training wage with age and time limits. The idea of a training wage was ranked lower as a cost-effective idea when it was listed along with other ideas that included creating financial incentives for businesses to hire young people and expanding summer youth employment programs.
  • When asked where the funding should come from to support youth development organizations, 68 percent of respondents chose, “public and private sectors need to fund opportunities for youth and young adults to gain critical skills.” 16-24 year olds (22 percent) and Asian Americans (18 percent) were more likely to support government funding of youth organizations compared to 55+ year olds (5 percent) and Caucasians (7 percent).
  • 69 percent of respondents said “yes” when asked, “Do you believe business involvement in the government’s current workforce training system is critical to training the skilled employees necessary to increasing economic growth and job opportunities?” Support was seen across all demographics including whether or not someone had hired a young adult.

CFN is strictly non-partisan and works with a diverse group of Advisory Board members and partners to develop the topics and materials presented in the forums and online platform.

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“Where’s the consensus?” Report on young adult employment

Community Forums Network Round 1:“Where’s the consensus?” ReportSummary of survey findings on young adult employmentDownload the PDFSummary by Executive Director: Carrie Shaw
Analysis by: Suzanne Pak
Technology Management: John Spady
Project Management: Fawn Spady
Design: Sigurd Gustafsson

Date: July 19, 2012Table of ContentsIt is a generation being defined by what it doesn’t have – life’s first time or entry-level jobSurvey HighlightsWhere’s the consensus?CFN Partner Organizations3. Community service and skill building programs offered by youth development organizations provide the opportunity for young adults and youth to gain critical skills. Where should the funds come from?6. The focus needs to be on improving the economy and creating jobs in general. When overall unemployment drops, young adults will find more job opportunities that are now being filled by older adults7. In general, do you support the idea of a special training wage for young adults (ages 16-19) during the first 3-12 months of their employment, as a way to encourage more employers to hire inexperienced young adults?8. Do you believe business involvement in the government’s current “workforce training” system is critical to training the skilled employees necessary to increasing economic growth and job opportunities?9. In your view, what is the best approach to delivering workforce skills? Please choose your ONE best answer10. What do you think is the single best approach to increase employment among young adults (age 16 -24)? Please choose your one best answerWhat is a PC Rating™?Disclaimer Clause It is a generation being defined by what it doesn’t have – life’s first time or entry-level job.

The Seattle Times in a recent series called them the “Recession Generation;” young adults and teens facing unprecedented levels of unemployment and a highly competitive job market, including 1 in 2 recent college graduates either unemployed or underemployed.

Washington State currently has the nation’s 9th lowest young adult employment rate, ages 16 to 24, with 43% of young adults employed according to the U.S. Labor Dept. Given the depth and timeliness of the young adult jobs crisis, Community Forums Network (CFN) decided to launch their first statewide “round” of in-person forums and an online survey on the topic of “How to improve young adult employment.

From May 3 through June 17, 2012, over 2,300 people shared their opinions on the urgent need to address the root causes of, and potential long-term solutions for the Recession Generation. Whether it was a gathering of business owners, DECA high school students, or homeless women in a local shelter, consensus emerged on the need to tackle the issue of young adult employment from many angles with government, private sector, community and education-based solutions.

Survey Highlights

Of the 10 survey questions asked of citizens, key areas of agreement emerged:

  • A public-private approach. When asked where the funding should come from, 68% of respondents selected “both the private and public sectors” need to fund opportunities for youth and young adults to gain critical skills.
  • A strong economy creates jobs for everyone. A combined 79% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement; “The focus needs to be on improving the economy and creating jobs in general. When overall unemployment drops, young adults will find more job opportunities that are now being filled by older adults.”
  • Retool public education to meet workforce training needs. Respondents favored school-based programs such as a vocational track, internships, apprenticeships, and entrepreneurship training. A majority of African-Americans selected “school-based training,” and at a higher rate than any other ethnic group.
  • A training wage with limits. 69% of respondents supported the idea of a training wage when it had a time limit. The idea of a training wage was ranked lower as a cost-effective idea when it was listed along with other ideas that included creating financial incentives for businesses to hire young people and expanding summer youth employment programs.
  • Businesses need to be a part of the equation. 69% support the idea of businesses being involved in the government’s current “workforce training” system. This idea was supported across age, ethnicity demographics and whether or not a respondent had hired a young adult.

Where’s the consensus?

This “Where’s the consensus?” Report highlights those areas where agreement emerged and provides more details on the demographic breakdown of survey responses. A more detailed analysis of the full report including respondents’ comments, and the polarization/consensus rating methodology can be accessed at:

www.CommunityForumsNetwork.org under “Topic Reports”

As a statewide public engagement platform, CFN’s mission is to bring people together to talk about issues, to share their ideas, and to discover where we agree on possible solutions.

CFN is not an advocacy organization and does not make policy recommendations. It is our hope and goal that insights gathered from Washington citizens are useful to policy decision-makers in creating a more solutions-based approach to the challenges we face in our communities.

Carrie Shaw
Executive Director
Summary
John Spady
Technical Advisor
Polarization/Consensus rating methodology
Suzanne Pak
Community Outreach Manager
Survey analysis and Full Report
Fawn Spady
Project Manager
Sigurd Gustafsson
Design
CFN Partner Organizations

At the heart of CFN’s mission to discover consensus on issues, is a statewide network of diverse, nonprofit organizations representing education, social services, youth development, business, workforce, and community service areas and interests. CFN currently has 25 Partner organizations that participate during a topic round by hosting forums and promoting the online survey to their members and supporters.

Round 1 Partner Organizations

  • Alliance of People with disAbilities
  • Association of WA Businesses
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of King County/YouthForce
  • Chinese Information & Service Center
  • City Club Seattle
  • Come Clean
  • Compass Housing Alliance
  • Council on American Islamic Relations
  • El Centro de la Raza
  • Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce
  • Issaquah Chamber of Commerce
  • Issaquah History Museums
  • Mary’s Place
  • Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce
  • Omak Chamber of Commerce
  • Renton Technical College
  • Solid Ground
  • Union Gospel Mission
  • Treehouse for Kids
  • TVW
  • Valley Cities Counseling & Consultation
  • WA Business Week
  • WA Federation of Independent Schools
  • WA Policy Center
  • WA Restaurant Association Education Foundation
  • Woodland Park Zoo

Media Partner: PugetSoundOff.org

CFN Partner Grant Program

Nonprofit organizations can earn grants up to a total of $4,000 for 2012. Partners earn points based on the number of survey responses that they generate during a topic round. Of the 2,328 survey responses generated, 809 were from forums and 1,519 were online surveys. Top grant recipients for Round 1 included:

  • Silver Grant ($1,500): Compass Housing Alliance, Council on American Islamic Relations, and Washington Policy Center
  • Bronze Grant ($1,000): Woodland Park Zoo
  • Dick Spady Legacy Grant ($1,000): Union Gospel Mission
  • $500 Grant: Boys & Girls Clubs of King County/YouthForce
  • $300 Grant: Association of WA Business, Mary’s Place, WA Business Week
  • $100 Grant: Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce, Treehouse for Kids, Valley Cities Counseling & Consultation, WA Restaurant Association

“As an organization dedicated to defending civil rights, empowering American Muslims and promoting mutual understanding, we are proud to partner with CFN in a project that aims to find solutions to issues facing an increasing number of our community members.”“We are also grateful to CFN for the grant which will help us carry out our important community service programs.”~ Arsalan Bukhari, Executive Director, CAIR-WA

Funds for the CFN partner grants are provided by the Spady Family of Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants, Inc.

Survey Questions3. Community service and skill building programs offered by youth development organizations provide the opportunity for young adults and youth to gain critical skills. Where should the funds come from?

  • This question had a high degree of Consensus, with 68% selecting ” Both the private and public sectors.” High degree of polarization is generally assumed with any funding question, so it is encouraging to see that most respondents want to see greater degree of partnership and shared responsibility between government and private sector.
  • 16-24 year olds (22%) and Asian Americans (18%) are more likely to support government funding of youth organizations, compared to 55+ year olds (5%) and Caucasians (7%). Conversely, 55+ year olds (21%) and Caucasians (17%) are more likely to support private sector funding, than 16-24 year olds (13%) and Asian Americans (11%). (Appendix 3)

6. The focus needs to be on improving the economy and creating jobs in general. When overall unemployment drops, young adults will find more job opportunities that are now being filled by older adults.

  • This question had a high degree of Consensus, with a combined 69% of respondents Agreeing or Strongly Agreeing. This is consistent with comments we saw from the surveys and heard from the forums, where older adults also expressed concern for availability of jobs for older adults.
  • Interestingly, 16-24 year olds were less likely to Agree (54%) than 55+ year olds (74%). This may reflect the concern of young adults that there exists systemically higher unemployment for young adults, and that employment levels for their age group may not bounce back right away with improvement in the economy. (Appendix 6)

7. In general, do you support the idea of a special training wage for young adults (ages 16-19) during the first 3-12 months of their employment, as a way to encourage more employers to hire inexperienced young adults?

  • This question had a high degree of Consensus, with a 69% of respondents saying Yes. This is interesting, given the high degree of polarization generally assumed by the media and elected officials on this topic.
  • 25-34 year olds are more likely to oppose the training wage (27%) than 55+ year olds (19%). (Appendix 7)
  • Hispanic Americans are more likely to oppose the training wage (28%) than African-Americans (12%). (Appendix 7)

8. Do you believe business involvement in the government’s current “workforce training” system is critical to training the skilled employees necessary to increasing economic growth and job opportunities?

  • This question had a high degree of Consensus, with a 69% of respondents saying Yes. Surprisingly, this question also has a portion of Abstain’s (13%), equal to that of more complex rank ordering questions #1 and #5.
  • There wasn’t much polarization of answers across Age Groups, Ethnicity, or Hired Young Adults vs. Not.

9. In your view, what is the best approach to delivering workforce skills? Please choose your ONE best answer.

  • The number one response (36%) was “Offer vocational track in high schools again.” This is echoed by what we heard from the forums, where young adults expressed desire to learn a trade (e.g. construction, manufacturing, auto repair, becoming an electrician, or \becoming a chef) and found it hard to gain these skills in high school. Business owners also expressed desire to hire young adults in these fields, but unable to take the time to teach everything from scratch.
  • Number two response (29%) is “Provide incentives for businesses to take the lead in providing workforce training.” This is consistent with comments we’ve seen in surveys, with suggestions to provide tax breaks to those who hire young adults or entry level workers and provide on-the-job training.
  • Interestingly, 16-24 year olds were more likely to select “Expand existing workforce training/ worksource programs” (31%), in contrast to the other age groups. (Appendix 9)

10. What do you think is the single best approach to increase employment among young adults (age 16 -24)? Please choose your one best answer.

  • The number one response (41%) was “School-based training and youth development programs: Increase state funding for vocational and technical curriculum, high school internships, apprenticeships and entrepreneurship training.” This is consistent with the leading solution provided on Question 9 (” Offer vocational track in high schools again”). It points to a recognition by respondents that in addition to business incentives and the economy, there also exists a workforce readiness/ skills gap that is not currently being addressed in schools.
  • 25-34 year olds were more likely select “School-based training and youth development programs” as top choice (47%), compared to 45-54 year olds (36%). Conversely, 45-54 year olds were more likely to select “New legislation: Allow for a training wage, reform industry regulations, revise the Business and Occupation tax structure” as top choice (23%). compared to 25-34 year olds (11%).
  • Majority of African-Americans selected “School-based training and youth development programs” as top choice (52%), higher than any answer selected on this question by any other ethnic group.

Key Comments for Question 10:

  • At Moses Lake High School in our Career and Technical Education Department we have real business connected to the classes. They not only create a business learning environment, but the students get job experience without being employed. We treat our classes like a business. We have the only operating Cafe in the Nation for our culinary students. We build boats in Manufacturing Technology and sell to the public, and have a latte stand that makes $40,000 a year as well as our own floral shop, catering class, and video production studio. All of our students leave with real job skills for the world of work. All schools could do this.

What is a PC Rating™?

The PC RatingTM, or “Polarization/Consensus RatingTM is a tool to measure the “weight” or value of the total responses to a question on a scale from 0 to 100.

A Polarization Rating (weight given a question) of 100% means that everyone participating answered “yes” or “no” and nobody selected “abstain” or “object.” A Polarization Rating of 50% means that half of those participating answered “yes” or “no” and half selected either “abstain” or “object.”

  • A 100% Consensus Rating means “all responses favor the positive side of the scale.
  • A 0% Consensus Rating means “all responses favor the negative side of the scale.”
  • A 50% consensus rating means “there is no consensus.”

Think of it as an image of a seesaw and grouping of people to one side or the other. The PC Rating is useful in comparing responses to a series of questions, to compare the response of different groups to the same question, or of the same group to different but related questions.

As introduction to the methodology, we have provided two samples using the geographical breakdown on Questions 6 and 7. For more information and details on the following data, go to www.CommunityForumsNetwork.org and click on “Topic Reports”

  • Additional breakouts of survey data
  • Polarization/Consensus Ratings
  • Comments from survey participants

CFN Observation on Question 6: A plurality of 43% participants agree (and over 2/3 majority of participants agree or strongly agree) with this statement. This remains consistent regardless of geography — by and large, eastern and western Washington participants hold similar opinions.

PC Rating Question 6: 95% had 86 Consensus
6) How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement, “The focus needs to be on improving the economy and creating jobs in general. When overall unemployment drops, young adults will find more job opportunities that are now being filled by older adults.”

CFN Observation on Question 7: A 2/3 majority of participants support the idea of a special training wage for young adults. This remains consistent regardless of geography and even stronger support is indicated among participants outside of Seattle proper.

PC Rating Question 7: 92% had 75 Consensus
7) In general, do you support the idea of a special training wage for young adults (ages 16-19) during the first 3-12 months of their employment, as a way to encourage more employers to hire inexperienced young adults?
Disclaimer ClauseDownload the PDF

The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the individuals who participated and do not necessarily represent the views of Community Forums Network or the participating partner organizations.

These results may not be representative of the entire state of Washington, and are the compilation of those individuals who, through their participation, expressed their interest and opinions about the topic at a specific point in time. As humans we all have the ability to receive new information, consider it, and change our views.

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Announcing CFN Partner Grants for Round 1

It’s the list everyone has been waiting for…the Partner Grant list for Round 1!

This list represents 13 diverse, nonprofit organizations from around the state and a total of  $8,300 in grants. Many thanks to ALL of our Partner organizations for helping us exceed our goal and generating over 2,300 survey responses!

We would also like to thank Dick’s Drive-In for providing gift certificates as consolation prizes and the Spady Family for providing the private funds in support CFN’s grant program. 

A hearty congratulations to our Round 1 Partner Grant winners!

  • Silver Grant ($1,500):  Compass Housing Alliance, Council on American Islamic Relations, and Washington Policy Center
  • Dick Spady Legacy Grant ($1,000):  Union Gospel Mission
  • Bronze Grant ($1,000):  Woodland Park Zoo
  • $500 Grant:  Boys & Girls Clubs of King County/YouthForce
  • $300 Grant:  Association of WA Business, Mary’s Place, WA Business Week
  • $100 Grant:  Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce, Treehouse for Kids, Valley Cities Counseling & Consultation, WA Restaurant Association

“As an organization dedicated to defending civil rights, empowering American Muslims and promoting mutual understanding, we are proud to partner with CFN in a project that aims to find solutions to issues facing an increasing number of our community members.”

“We are also grateful to CFN for the grant which will help us carry out our important community service programs.”

Arsalan Bukhari, Executive Director, CAIR-WA

 

“Partnering with Community Forums Network provided Washington Policy Center with an invaluable opportunity to work with various stakeholders to explore the important issue of youth unemployment.  WPC has long expressed concern with our state’s high youth unemployment rate—the information mined from the surveys provides valuable insight into an issue that impacts the businesses and workers in our state and will play an important role our Center for Small Business’ ongoing research efforts on this topic.”

Erin Shannon, Small Business Director, Washington Policy Center

 

“Thank you to Community Forms Network for the opportunity to partner with them in this important civic engagement process.  Many of our young adult employees and clients were able to participate, which we hope was valuable to them, as well as the process overall.  We are excited to see the results of the surveys and forums and look forward to partnering with CFN in the future.”

Lindsey Lund, Compass Housing Communications Coordinator

 


 

 

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Partners share their feedback on Round 1

Dear Partners,

Many of you have provided excellent feedback throughout our first topic round and we want to share your great advice and insights. Last week, we also reviewed the Consensus Report on “How To Improve Young Adult Employment,”  http://www.communityforumsnetwork.org/topic-reports/ and want to encourage those partners whom were unable to join us to continue that conversation on the survey findings, and how CFN can improve our partnership.

Here’s what you said…

Partner Feedback:

1.)  Blog Posts:  New partners would love to hear your insights – so why not write a blog post?  Give us 350 words that express your insights about employment, education, youth development, or volunteer programs that your organization offers. We want to share your perspectives on the challenges young adults face and on the solutions to improving employment or education. Feel free to email your blog post to carrie@cfn.communityforums.org so that Carrie Shaw can post it on our website.

2.)  Newsletters & Social Media Posts:  Many new partners appreciated seeing examples of organization newsletters and social media posts created by CFN’s more “veteran” partners to their own members. These communication examples are helpful to new partners as they craft their communications and build momentum for participation during a round.  Please feel free to do the same during the next round! http://www.communityforumsnetwork.org/partners-leveraging-social-media-local-press/

Feedback for Community Forums Network:

3.)  Balanced Viewpoint in Topic Video:  Some of you expressed concern that there were not balanced viewpoints presented in the topic video, especially regarding some of the policy solutions. We strive to present a balanced point-of-view, so this type of feedback is very helpful. It is the role of the CFN Advisory Board to provide oversight and input on the topic video.

Another way we seek to represent balance on a particular topic is to ask our Advisory Board members and partners to submit potential survey questions. Please let Carrie Shaw, CFN’s Executive Director, if you would like to submit a survey question on behalf of your organization for Round 2 on education funding. Your input on survey questions also helps us present different viewpoints in the topic video.

4.)  Preview of the topic survey:  One area we need to do a better job on is communicating our protocol for input. For the survey, partners are encouraged to submit potential topic questions for the survey. The core CFN team selects the questions based on relevance and representation of diverse points-of-view. If your question is selected, then you will be given the opportunity to review how your question is presented in the survey. Our Advisory Board also reviews and provides input on the topic survey.

4) Clarity of Survey Questions:  Some of you expressed concern that survey directions and some of the survey questions were not clearly written. Specifically, you would like:

  • Partner selection for grant points:  Explicitly ask them to select only ONE partner and to let respondents know that this is how partners earn the grant  (especially for paper surveys).
  • Place the email address and name field (for paper surveys) at the beginning of the survey, since both fields need to filled in for a survey to be valid.
  • For a ranking order question (on paper surveys), to have respondents write in 1, 2, or 3. The table format was confusing and led several respondents to select 1, 2, and 3 for multiple answers.

What Worked Well:

6.)  In-Person Forums:  Those who have held in-person forums appreciated being able to hear different perspectives from members and to engage them on key issues.  We agree that in-person forums provide the optimal experience for civic engagement and dialog, and hope that many of you will be able to hold forums during the next round.  We discovered that holding forums during regularly scheduled meetings or where your members regularly congregate is a much easier process.  Scheduling a special event just for a forum involves a lot more effort in communication and planning.

7.)  Networking With Other Partners:  Many of you have been able to get to know other partners better during partner conference calls and at the launch luncheon. Thank you! We agree that networking is a very valuable benefit of becoming a partner.

If there is anything we’ve overlooked, please feel free to post your suggestion or ideas as a comment below this post. Thanks again for helping us generate a successful first round!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CFN Intern visits the Millionair Club

My name is Eric Park. I am from South Korea and currently a student attending Bellevue College with studies in communications. As the summer intern for Community Forums Network (CFN), I am working as a Government Affairs/Community Outreach Coordinator. In this role, I help facilitate forums on the issue of young adult employment and am helping to build the internal infrastructure for the organization’s college and government outreach effort.

On July, 17 2012, I had a chance to visit a charity group called the Millionair Club with Suzanne Pak who is the Community Outreach Manager for CFN. It was a great experience to explore how private social services work in the United States. Private charities providing social services is a new concept to me, so I’d like to share my new experiences while I was at the Millionair Club.

To give a little introduction about the Millionair Club, they are a social service center that provides homeless people with shelter, food, activities, security, job opportunities, and employment services. Their mission is to change individual lives by providing jobs and support services. They have been doing this work since 1921. The U.S. has many homeless shelters compared to South Korea. Jacki Lorenz, who is the Major Gift Officer, and Greg Whitney, Sr. Director of Development/Business Relations, gave us a tour and explained how the system works at the Millionair Club. They are trying really hard to make a difference in the lives of homeless people. They are reaching out to many hurting people in the community to help them get jobs and to live on their own.

In Korea, there are not a lot of organizations like the Milionair Club that help homeless people. We do not have large gathering places for homeless people to eat or sleep. Korea does not provide for organizations like the Millionair Club because there are not many sponsors or businesses willing to support them. Also, the Korean government does not place much attention on homelessness. It is interesting to me how social services in the U.S. are very well organized and that there are many other organizations and businesses who are willing to help such as Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants. I feel very proud to work as an intern for CFN, and to see how all the nonprofit organizations make a difference in people’s lives.

Eric Park
Eric.cfn@communityforums.org

 

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Meet our newest Advisory Board member…

I am honored to introduce CFN’s newest Advisory Board member — longtime community leader and public servant Santos Contreras.

When we sat down for lunch at his son Greg’s restaurant, Daman’s Bar and Grill in Redmond, what struck me was not only Santos’ depth of community service, but how enthusiastically he embraced the mission of CFN. Here’s what he had to say…

“I am honored that you invited me to join the CFN Advisory Board! We need more civic-minded people like Dick Spady who put their resources behind such worthwhile organizations. If there is one thing I believe in, it is the need for all of us; individuals, cities and organizations to work together in a more collaborative way to address the many problems our society faces.

The work on young adult unemployment certainly needs focus and I look forward to being part of the important discussion on this subject and other future subjects to come.”

And here is more about Santos’ life and commitment to community values:

Santos Contreras received a degree in business from Seattle University in 1958 where he served as student body Vice President. After college, he served in the U.S. Army as an officer in the Ordinance Corps for two years.

Employed by the Boeing Company in Seattle, his distinguished 38-year career included the positions of Personnel Executive and Compensation Manager, and Union Relations Director in the corporate offices. As Union Relations Director he was responsible for negotiating and administering contracts with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) and the Boeing Pilot’s Union.

He was elected to the Kirkland City Council in 1991 and served on the council for 12 years. While on the council, he served on the Public Safety and the Finance Committees and was elected Deputy Mayor. Santos was also an original member of the Board of Directors of the Cascade Water Alliance.

Very active in the community, Santos was awarded the Community Service Award in 1984 by the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce. He chaired the Moss Bay Celebration for four years and co-chaired the Moss Bay 10K fun run for ten years. He currently serves on the Advisory Council for Childhaven in Seattle, the Board of Directors of the Kirkland Performance Center and the Harborview Medical Center  Board of Trustees

A Kirkland citizen for over 36 years, Santos has been married to Sue for 45 years and has two grown sons who both graduated from the University of Washington.

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Wenatchee Learns serves as model for effective citizen engagement

 

By Rufus Woods
Publisher, Wenatchee World

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I’m beginning to believe that citizen engagement in public policy discussions is being rekindled in our communities, and that is very welcome indeed. It gives me hope that the thin democracy being practiced in this country today can be traded for a more vigorous version.

In recent columns, I’ve talked about a broad-based effort in Leavenworth to develop affordable housing and also articulated how hundreds of people from diverse perspectives have helped the Wenatchee School District create a compelling vision for the future.

In both cases, rather than the policy being driven by a few officials cloistered behind closed doors making assumptions that may or may not hold true, the direction was owned by a broader cross-section of the community.

One of the architects of the Wenatchee Learns effort, consultant Ben Field, commented to me recently that he hopes that effort will help revitalize democracy. Now that’s an audacious goal, but I think there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that getting away from business as usual in government and engaging citizens creatively has tremendous potential to change the way that the public thinks about government.

It seems to me that most of us have resigned ourselves to a consumer mentality when it comes to public institutions. We vote and pay our electric bill and taxes to the city and feel like we’re entitled to services. But we can and should take a more active interest in civic affairs. Rather than being just consumer of services, we ought to think like owners — that we have an investment interest in seeing that our institutions work well.

It is often said that people will support what they help to create, and certainly in the case of Leavenworth there is a great sense of ownership in making sure that the community exists for more than just the elite, but for those who work for a living. They are invested in that effort, which gives it tremendous power and vitality.

My sense is that the Wenatchee Learns project will ultimately change the way people in the community feel about education — that the responsibility is not just the school board’s but shared by businesses and community members.

Achieving that will require that the school board and administration take positive steps to make change based on the input the community has provided. Making bold steps cannot happen without community support and by engaging people in helping create the vision, there’s no question that school board members should feel very confident in following through.

The critical point is this. The district has taken a very open approach to gather input without trying to influence the outcome one way or another. It has been an intellectually honest effort without which this effort would have died a quick and ugly death.

With a clear vision developed by engaging the community, it becomes a heck of a lot easier to make significant changes. In the case of Wenatchee Learns, rather than being the school board’s project, it becomes the community’s project.

That’s the way democracy ought to work. In fact, it’s the only way real democracy can work. I hope other public agencies are taking note of these collaborative, community-based approaches.

We can tackle tough issues if the community is engaged effectively.