Broderick Johnson, Luke Shaefer and Brian Jacob discuss the importance of investments in youth and young adults. January, 2018.
I am delighted to welcome you all here today for today's special event
at the Ford School, which is also co sponsored by the University of
Michigan's Poverty Solutions. Today's event is part of the 2018 Reverend
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium. First held at the University of Michigan
in 1986, the two month long MLK Symposium is one of the largest
celebrations of the life and legacy of MLK sponsored by colleges and universities
in the nation. And we are delighted on to have as this year's
theme, The Fierce Urgency of Now. There's no better time than the present
to discuss innovative change, and this theme calls on us to claim ownership
of the challenges we face and not leave them for others or for
future generations to address.
Today, we have the opportunity to take a closer look at challenges facing
our youth and young adults. We are honored to be joined by my
colleagues, Brian Jacob, Co Director of the Education Policy Initiative,
Luke Shaefer, Director of the University of Michigan Poverty Solutions and
our featured guest, my dear friend, and a Michigan Law alum who has
had the distinction of serving under two US Presidents, Broderick Johnson.
I'm going to say
more about Broderick now. You all know, I hope, Luke and Brian,
and can read more about them in your literature for today.
Broderick is a highly respected partner in the DC office of Bryan Cave,
and he also serves as Chairman of the Board of My Brother's Keeper
Alliance, an outgrowth of the task force established by President Obama,
in whose administration Broderick served from 2014 to 2017 as Assistant
to the President and Cabinet Secretary. Broderick previously served as Deputy
Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs under President Clinton.
And he's had a distinguished career in private practicing on Capitol Hill
as well. Broderick and I first worked together more than 20 years ago
on community empowerment, focusing on supporting new markets opportunities
in distressed communities here, in the United States,
and putting Washington DC on a firm financial footing after years of neglect.
I have deeply appreciated over all those years and relied on Broderick's
good counsel and wisdom. His DC savvy and collaborative spirit,
and the most essential feature for surviving Washington, a healthy sense
of humor. We're thrilled that this is just the first of a planned
series of teaching engagements Broderick will have here at the Ford School.
I'm pleased to let you know today that Broderick will be becoming a
Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence. Broderick will be engaging
with us more informally this term. He will be teaching in our PPIA
program this summer, and then he'll be joining us again next winter to
teach a course related to mass incarceration.
For those of you who are students in the room, who are interested
in research assistant opportunities, we will be posting a Research Assistant
for Broderick soon. As for today, Broderick will frame the conversation
with opening remarks. Then we'll have a panel discussion with Luke and Brian.
Following the discussion, Associate Dean, Paula Lantz will facilitate an
open Q&A. Ford school staff will be standing in the room with handheld microphones
for those with questions. Please join me in welcoming Broderick, Brian,
Luke. Good afternoon. Good afternoon. Sometimes, I think kinda fancifully
about moving back to Ann Arbor permanently. And then you have weather like
today, which in DC would have caused a whole month of shutdowns. We
may have shutdowns anyway at the end of the week.
anyway, I'm gonna try not to be too deeply political.
Emphasis on deeply. Can't help but be somewhat political.
These are strange times. It is great to be back here in Ann
I love this place so much, it was so important, of course,
to my development as a young man, as a law student.
Two of my dearest friends in the world,
I was the best man at their wedding, but we were also
here in law school together, Greg Jenkins, and his better half,
Patricia Jenkins, are here with me as well. So it's great to see
you here. We've come a long way, haven't we?
When we think about... We were great students, though, I remember that right.
There's something about being a student, and I've have realized this as
a professor, more importantly, is that you grade yourself
by the effort that you put in. And so,
we worked hard, but I think in retrospect,
we have an even greater appreciation for what this university has to offer
and it is reflected in all for us and our children,
and how well they've done in college and beyond. So it's great to
be here with my friends, Michael Barr. So, Michael, there is, he gave
you a sanitized version of
what it was like when we both worked in the Clinton White House,
only in as much as I had a job in Legislative Affairs,
and Michael was in Treasury at the time and there was another job,
that then first lady Mrs. Clinton needed someone to do around DC.
I talked my way out of it and Michael talked his way into
it. I'm really grateful for you for having done that. 'Cause somebody had
to do the job, and as important job though, seriously, in turning DC
around. So Michael, thank you very much and thank you for appointing me
so I could be here in residence throughout this year and to really
work on mass incarceration issues, particularly from the standpoint of solutions.
Thank you very much for having me back here and to my co
panelists today, Brian Jacob, nice to meet you, look forward to getting
to know you and Luke, we've had occasion to get to know each
other a bit and I look forward to the panel today, but working
with you as well. Michael, to your team has done extraordinary work and
making it easy for me to be here today.
Thank you all.
The significance of this day, so
today would've been the 89th birthday of Martin Luther King
Jr., to the day, it is in fact his birthday.
It's even more compelling and symbolic to be here with all of you
But we're also approaching the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination
in April of 1968, April 4th of 1968. I was a 11 year
old Catholic school boy growing up in Baltimore.
The riots are still very vivid in my memory.
My hometown of Baltimore is still in many ways scarred and recovering
from that violence and racial discord from the wide segregation patterns
in Baltimore, desperate neighborhoods and broad economic and educational
disparity, police and community distrust, and of course,
the tragedy of Freddie Gray and the unrest that followed. My friend,
and I'm sure you all have read the great works of Tona Hasse
Coach, has written all about these things and has chronicled them
Baltimore, still, in many ways presents the lingering and present conditions
that in many respects led President Obama to direct his White House and
across his administration to establish the My Brother's Keeper initiative
in February of 2014, hard to believe it, but nearly four years ago,
today. I briefly wanna couch my opening remarks in terms of three things
regarding My Brother's Keeper. First, the motivation for President Obama
to establish it. Second, what we were able to accomplish
in the White House and across the United States over that three year
period. And most importantly, where we go from here.
First, the moment that really drove the President to establish My Brother's
Keeper, and that was the murder of Trayvon Martin. You all will recall
that President Obama spoke from the Rose Garden of the White House,
not long after the murder of Trayvon Martin.
And he said this, among many other things, quote: "Trayvon Martin could've
been my son, could have been me 35 years ago. There are a lot of kids out
there who need help and who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.
Is there more we can do to give them a sense that their
country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in
I had the opportunity then to speak with the President not long after
that and right after the 2012 election campaign,
and he talked about how he really wanted to go big to use
the power and the reach of his presidency to better organize how the
federal government established programs, made better programs looking at
the disparities that especially affect boys and young men of color,
what we, as a federal government could do better,
and he wanted to also use his power as a convener
to bring people together across the public and private sectors throughout
the United States. President Obama was very clear that he wanted the effort
to be evidence based. To asses the problems and the solutions with the
same level of rigor that he demanded in everything else that he directed
from the White House.
Let me take you back to February 27, 2014. To the East Room
of the White House.
That's where the President signed the Presidential Memorandum that established
My Brother's Keeper. There is a compelling symbolism in the fact that he
did it from the East Room of the White House that day,
'cause see, it was nearly 50 years ago to the day to when the
President, President then Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act into
law, in that same room that President Obama signed a memorandum almost 50
years later establishing My Brother's Keeper. When you look at pictures
from those two days, of course you'll see a traditional gathering behind
President Johnson, of members of Congress taking credit,
great leaders like Dr. King, a lot of adults.
You look at the picture though, of My Brother's Keeper in the East
Room of the White House, the backdrop, so to speak, the human backdrop
behind President Obama that day was young men of color from Chicago and
Washington DC. And so he chose that audience
of people to get the pens that he handed out that day,
for example, to show those young men in the country quite
literally that this was about them, that this was a matter of Presidential
A national priority that was led by a President of profound moral leadership,
a President who is profound in his moral character and his leadership
and, dare I say, not profane. Here's a summary of what we accomplished
for the final three years of the Obama White House. At the Federal level,
first of all, we focus on a different approach. We identified six milestones
or stages in the lives of all children
and young adults that impact their chances for a successful life.
We adopted an expansive and comprehensive approach from birth to mid 20s
to examine the data. 'Cause here's what we know, here's what evidence tells
us. First, about the word gap, and it startled me when I heard
about this and so I did my own
calculus, it was actually very basic math.
But, the word gap, okay. By age three,
children from low income households have heard roughly 30 million fewer
words than their affluent peers, 30 million.
We can also talk about the quality of those words by the way,
because that's also an issue in terms of what these children hear, who
often times, again, are 30 million words deficient by age three.
About discipline policy, here's what we know: African American students
represent 16% of the public school population, but make up more than 42%
of those suspended more than once, and 34% of students expelled.
About college enrollment and success: Only 12% of Hispanic men
and 21% of African American men have college degrees by their late 20s compared
to nearly 40% of white men. About employment:
A black baby boy born 25 years ago, has a one in two
chance of being employed today.
That statistic actually, this last one about employment,
came from a study that was done by the President's Council and Economic
Advisers, and your own
Professor Betsey Stevenson, who I had the pleasure of seeing earlier today,
actually drafted that report for Jason Furman's great team.
She actually talked about it in terms of
baby boys, which is an interesting... Folks in the African American community
especially, know about the baby black boy kind of terminology. I think there
was a movie made about that as a matter of fact
with Snoop Dogg, was Snoop Dogg in that movie? It was Tyrese. Thank
you very much. Tyrese, oh yeah, how do you know that?
Tyrese, yeah, okay, alright. But the economic point goes to what was a
really important characteristic of MBK work in the White House, and that
is, we could make the case certainly, that there is a moral obligation,
a compelling moral issue around the success of work like My Brothers Keeper,
but there is just as important an economic argument to be made about
the global competitiveness of the United States and how we need to make
sure we're not leaving millions of young men and young women of color
off the economic field. So, again, we developed a bunch of new collaborations
across federal agencies. There were 20 federal agencies
and White House offices that were involved in MBK. Here are some of
the things specifically that we did, second chance Pell. The department
of Justice and the Department of Education came together, realize that the
Secretary of Education had some additional authority, some special authority,
experimental authority to give 12,000 Pell grants to people incarcerated
across the United States. We know the root to jail into prison is often
times about economic and educational deprivation. So an important way to
stay out and to address recidivism is to help people get an education
when they're imprisoned. We also had DOJ and offices within DOJ and across
the states, new violence reduction strategies. Also, a commitment to Ban
the Box. The President himself directed all federal agencies to Ban the
Box with respect to hiring and strongly encourage local government in private
sector employers to do the same. That is to make sure that that
box on those employment applications that is so often at the very top,
about whether or not you've ever been arrested or whether you've ever been
incarcerated gets in the way of especially young men of color,
being able to get an opportunity to get a second chance and to
get a job. We also had, across federal agencies, investments in job programs
from the Department of Labor and other federal agencies.
So there were, believe me, dozens of different programs, collaborations
across the federal government. The second big approach that we took,
though, was a community based approach. President Obama challenged cities,
local government, and tribal nations across the United States to become
what we called My Brother's Keeper communities. That meant that they adopted
the same data driven, evidence based approach and greater collaboration
across the public and private sectors to do the work around My Brother's
Keeper, to in effect in many places revolutionize the collaboration that
they were doing. We saw 250 communities across the United States in every
state in the United States have at least one My Brothers Keeper community,
as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Some communities, of course, became exemplary communities and still are,
like Detroit, and Boston, and Houston and Albuquerque. And there are exemplary
state wide efforts that we saw develop in California, New York and Florida.
And finally, with regard to the private sector, again, because for the President,
it was very important that this not be seen as a government based
or government exclusive set of initiatives, nearly $2 billion in new private
sector investments in jobs and apprenticeship programs, and technology assistance
and mentoring programs came out of the private sector and we can talk
about that a little bit more in the panel. Then finally,
a new nonprofit was started and that was the My Brother's Keeper Alliance,
and it was begun in May of 2015 by a group of business leaders who
wanted to develop and support efforts inspired by the President's own vision.
It was our hope and our expectation out of the White House that
this nonprofit would be so well developed and organized when we left office,
that President Obama would embrace it post presidency. President Obama was
always very clear with folks about one thing and that was that the
work would not end for him, the mission was not over when he
left the White House, and so we hoped that My Brother's Keeper Alliance,
this nonprofit would be the vehicle for that.
And in fact it has become the vehicle for that. So, where do
we go from here? Well, first it starts with the My Brother's Keeper
Alliance. It is now not an independent nonprofit so to speak,
not independent from Barack Obama, it is now part of the Obama Foundation.
It is one of the central components of the Obama Foundation's work going
forward. I am honored to serve as the chair of the advisory group
and it is made up of many of the original board members from
the private sector. And here's what we'll be looking at. We'll be looking
at making significant investments in a small number of MBK communities.
We don't have the federal government anymore, of course you all
know. I don't know if this new administration has realized that they have
some responsibilities around the My Brother's Keeper work, although it's
perhaps framed differently, but we certainly can't wait for that to happen.
And yet, we don't have all those resources so we'll focus on a
smaller number of communities, and we're gonna bring greater attention to
two major measurable outcomes. First, supporting mentoring programs to close
the gap between the need and human capital. There are tens of thousands
of young people of color who need mentors,
there are tens of thousands of adults who want to mentor young people,
but figuring out how to bring that match together has always been challenging.
We're getting great help from the National Basketball Association and Mentor
Inc. Around that work. And the second big part of our strategy will
be to support violence reduction strategies proven to work across the United
States. So those will be the two big points of emphasis for the My
Brother's Keeper Alliance work out of the Obama Foundation.
Let me close my beginning remarks with this. So, I had a white
board on the wall of my office in the West Wing.
One of the more amusing moments was when Reince Priebus, who was about
to become Chief of Staff, wandered into my office, I think two days
before I was going to leave, and he looked at the white board
and had these expressions one of which I'll describe, and he said,
"Well, what was that for?" And then I knew it was time for
me to get the heck out of there and pack my stuff up
and leave, because it was, how do you explain something like this?
One of those expressions was, to quote, "Make exceptional no longer the
exception." Again, "Make exceptional no longer the exception." Look, I continue
to be personally unsettled by the fact that in many ways I'm still
seen as the exception to the rule, and it's like the black guy
who comes in the room who's got great education and is raising a
great family and this and that, and I look around and it's just
And we have to change that so much. My own sons and my
daughter experience some of the same stuff when they go into environments
where they are the only ones and they are seen as the exception because
they are exceptional. A lot of that, though, is
reality, of course, but it's also a perception
about boys and young men of color and girls and young women of
color in terms of their exceptionalism, because there are...
You can call them, "Diamond in the roughs," or whatever, but there are
millions of exceptional young people of color that we just don't notice
for their talent, we don't invest in. So we got to change that,
and while so much of our nation has changed since 1968, believe me,
an awful lot has changed since 1968, we know we still got a
long way to go to change realities, break down barriers
and hold on to hope. Remember hope, the hope posters?
Because for a lot of our young people, they remember President Obama as
giving them great reason for a lot of hope, I daresay for us chiseled old...
Professors as well.
We got to recognize that exceptionalism, we got to bring investments to
that exceptionalism and make sure that we're not continuing to leave millions
of young kids behind in this society. So anyway, those are my opening
remarks to frame this discussion. Again, it is great to be back here
at the University of Michigan. I can't stay for the game tonight but
I will look forward to seeing the score when I get home,
'cause "Go, Blue," is said as often in DC as it is here
in Ann Arbor, so, thank you all very much.
Hello, good afternoon.
Thank you, Dean Barr and Paula and Broderick and everyone else for being
I'm honored to be included and excited to tell you about some of
that some faculty colleagues and students and I are doing.
It is going to be on a program called "Grow Detroit's Young Talent,"
and I will
tell you what that is in a moment.
So, this work is being done by the Youth Policy Lab,
this is a kind of applied research center that a few colleagues and
I started about a year ago. The idea is to create partnerships with
local and state agencies
and to do research that is really applied and really relevant,
something that I think is not common and not particularly easy within the
Academy to do. We're focusing on areas education, healthcare, juvenile justice
and workforce development.
And we're gonna be providing all sorts of data focused
technical assistance, including need analysis and program evaluation. This
is one of our first partnerships.
This is with a program known as Grow Detroit's Young Talent.
This is Detroit's version of what many of you are probably familiar with,
Summer Youth Employment Programs.
And this is run by two Detroit City agencies
with a variety of funding, federal, state, private sector dollars. And youth
work, approximately 20 hours per week for six weeks during the summer.
In addition to this work there is a few hours of training in
a variety of areas ranging from workplace readiness to financial literacy.
And the work experience that the youth get, you'll range quite a bit.
And this is one of the ways that I think Detroit's program is
a bit unique and more interesting and innovative than other programs throughout
The typical Summer Youth Employment Program is one where youth have jobs
with community based nonprofit organizations, often of the type that I've
described here, childcare, community beautification, community service.
Detroit has that, but then when they started
and started to increase the program several years ago, they made a big
push to involve the private sector more. They've received a lot of private
sector funding, and funding in the sense that private sector companies agreed
to take on 10, 20, 100, even more youth in some cases.
There are career pathways which are internships, Quicken Loans, Touchpoint,
Blue Cross Blue Shield and others. And there's also industry led training
which is some sort of on the job learning
that provide youth that are interested
more tangible workplace skills that may coincide with some high school career
technical education that they're getting, and maybe a pathway into subsequent
post secondary education.
What do we know about how Summer Youth Employment Programs influence youth
outcomes? These programs have been around for many, many years. In that
way, they are not new, per se, but we really, as in many
social programs, there have been few studies to help us understand really
whether they are effective, or more importantly, which types of programs
are effective for which types of youth.
Some recent work in New York City, Chicago and Boston has found mixed
outcomes. I guess the headline that I think is extremely important but I
think hadn't been appreciated before is that there were big effects in violence
reduction. And this is
maybe most well known in Chicago. There's been some rigorous evaluation
that suggest that participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program in
Chicago reduced violent crime arrests by 43% among
young males in the city. Importantly, this was not just during the summer,
so it was not
what the criminologists called an incapacitation effect. It wasn't just
them doing something else during that summer time, but the vast majority
of the effect was actually in the subsequent year following that summer
But there haven't been really noticeable effects yet on educational outcomes
or labor market outcomes, and that really is where Detroit is interested
in generating some change. And so we agreed to this partnership with the
Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation and City Connect. We're helping
them compile a variety of big administrative data sets to look at how
applicants and participants compare to other youth in Detroit and then how
that participation influences educational outcomes. I'll present just a
little bit of the work, what we've learned so far,
and then in the Q&A we can talk about
the upcoming plans. We're working to develop an evaluation for summer 2018
with some other colleagues, including Trina Shanks at the School of Social
Work. I'm not sure if Trina's here. But she has been
a key partner, putting together a survey to gather a lot more information
about youth that participate in the program.
Actually, this is a perfect time. What have we learned so far?
Before I tell you what we've learned so far, I think it's very
important that I tell you who the "we" is. And actually,
I am a very small part of the "we" here. The "we"
includes the incredible partners we have but also some of the students and
staff that are in the room, Kelly Lovett, Jasmina, Max Gross,
if he is here, who really did a lot of the analysis that's
underlying the results. Thank you to all of the students and staff that
have helped make this project possible.
What have we learned? Well, first, youth participants come from across Detroit.
This is a heat map. The darker the area shows you the greater
density of participants. Those of you who know Detroit well will recognize
some of these neighborhoods. But it really is spread out across the city,
and so I think that's a testament to the outreach
of a variety of the city agencies and the community based organizations.
How did the applicants to the Summer Youth Employment Program compare with
other Detroit youth? They are more likely to be female,
slightly, you're gonna have 56% versus 40 something percent. They come from
slightly less disadvantaged, though still extremely disadvantaged neighborhoods
in the absolute sense, and applicants come from
neighborhoods with poverty rates around 31%, relative to other Detroit youth.
And interestingly, those youth that seek to apply to the program come in
with better academic preparation than other Detroit youth. So I think it's...
This is highlighting some of the successes but also the challenges of the
program. I mean, it's certainly getting some very well prepared and motivated
youth, but it still hasn't... It's still not reaching
maybe the most disadvantaged Detroit youth.
actually a quite common problem in a variety of social policies,
getting to really
the most disadvantaged individuals.
So, this is just a quick slide in methodology, what we're doing.
There's lots of fun statistics behind this, and I'll be more than happy
to talk with people about this afterwards, this is one of my favorite
things, so. But just quickly, what we're doing is we are comparing youth,
trying to compare apples to apples. Youth who participate,
same gender, same race, same grade level, same high school and same eight
grade test scores as youth that don't participate. So if you have a
young ninth grade black male who scores at the 60th percentile on the
Renaissance High School in Detroit, we'd have
an observationally identical youth, that's what the language is, from the
same high school, same year who didn't participate, and that's who we're
trying to use to draw the comparisons.
Oh my goodness, we've got technical difficulties.
In short, I'm gonna show you, there really are some very encouraging positive
results that come out.
Chronically absent youth,
youth that applied but didn't participate, this number here is
days per year.
A third of the youth, even those relatively high performing, motivated youth
that applied, were chronically absent in the years following
that summer, compared to only about
slightly reducing chronic absenteeism among the youth.
This is really the signature headline, in fact I'm gonna... Okay,
persevere here. Graduate high school. If we're looking at 10th and 11th
graders, this is youth who apply right kinda going into their...
After their 10th and 11th grade year, and then we can follow them
for two years to look at what fraction of them
graduated, which would be on time graduation.
on time in four years. Some, a few percent of those are still
in high school.
But the majority of that 18% have dropped out.
in the program go on to graduate. And even a larger number still
in high school, after five years.
This is very encouraging in the world of social policy analysis,
these are kind of moderate size effects. This is... And when we think
about what we could've expected from a six week
summer program, it really is I think quite encouraging given, you know,
potentials for expanding and extending the program in certain ways. This
what we found so far. Where are we going from here?
Our goal is to continue to work with the city agencies,
to help them use data, to support their continuous program improvement.
We have like a five step model here and I'm gonna just go
through... I'm not good with the animation. Articulate objectives to find
outcomes, pilot, evaluate, refine and then do it again. And so this is
kind of what we've started to do with them, hopefully our first
piloting and evaluation will be this summer, working to refine after that.
And extending some of these preliminarily encouraging results.
And that's just the randomized evaluation we're planning for summer 2018.
That's a short description of a program that I think
is making an important difference in Detroit and has, even more importantly,
some potential to be even better. Now Luke is gonna continue
to talk about related programs in Washtenaw County, and then
bigger and more important themes after that.
Okay. We've now arrived at the least distinguished panelist in the collection.
It's always a little bit daunting to speak after
a dude who has "former Cabinet Secretary" after his name.
I will say I got the chance to visit Broderick in his office
in the White House
I think maybe a couple times, and it did sort of,
as you entered it, it did leave you with
a familiar feeling to when you're entering an M Den.
I'm pretty sure there was a Michigan lamp, a Michigan football helmet.
There was like a big picture of Bo on
the wall. So thank you for being an incredible ambassador
to the University of Michigan. So, I was doing a little bit of
time just reflecting on a date like today when we're
celebrating the contributions of a giant like Martin Luther King, and I
just had three thoughts that maybe will contextualize
my comments here. The first was, I always remember going down to Atlanta
to the Martin Luther King Museum and
space and getting excited that I was gonna get to see his Bible. I knew
his Bible was on the display. And for some reason I imagined this
very pristine sort of Bible, since faith was such an important
element of what he did. And when I saw it, it was like the
most ragtag thing. You know, pages flipped over, it was beat up and
stuff. And it just sort of made you think of someone who like really
used it, right? That's where he drew
his faith from.
The second thing that I've been reflecting on was that the guy was
short I think he was like 5'8" maybe, and in my mind it's just
important to remember that because he's such a giant now, right?
And he's made such an incredible impact on
the trajectory of the country and he was just a guy,
just a person like the rest of us, right? So,
I think remembering that
we can all make contributions that matter,
and that his call is... Continues to be so important.
One last thing I've been thinking about is reading a book about
Richard Nixon, and the two of them actually had a very sort of long
standing relationship. Dr. King
was sort of trying to nurture that relationship for a decade or two
over the course of the time that they were in the national limelight
together. And so, it just reminded me that
great idealists, right, people who have great visions
can also be politically savvy, right, where he was obviously trying to do
the same thing with people on the other side.
So for about the last year, my staff and I have been
moving along with a university level initiative called "Poverty Solutions"
which is situated here in the Ford School, and Ford School is an
home for us. And the goal is to really try to bring the
resources of the University of Michigan to bear on one of our most
pressing problems in the United States and globally, poverty.
And to try to get beyond a lot of the important work that
we've done here at U of M of
understanding the scope of poverty, the causes and the consequences to really
try to be in partnership and find new ways to prevent and alleviate
poverty. And so, we are about a year in, and
I'm excited that we have research projects that we're helping to support
across something like 13 of our 19 schools and colleges across campus,
and you can really see the breadth of the interest in doing really
concrete work out in the community. We have a lot of work going
on in the city of Detroit, which I think makes a lot of
sense. Detroit is one of our nation's poorest cities,
but there's obviously a lot of strength and opportunities there and so trying
to be in partnership with the city government and be in partnership with
community based stakeholders to see what kind of value added a place like
the University of Michigan can bring is important work.
But as we started also doing this work, I started having a lot
of conversations across
one thing that kept on coming back was that
when we wanna look at poverty and equality we don't
have to go very far
outside of Washtenaw County. So, I think it won't be news to us,
a lot of us are aware that here at U of M a
high fraction of our students, in fact one out of every 10 U of M Ann Arbor
students comes from the top
the income distribution. And Washtenaw County itself is among the bottom
and social mobility. So, getting to know folks at the United Way,
getting to know some of our partners in Ypsilanti in particular,
right? Ypsilanti where, just not far away from where we are right here,
has pockets of poverty that look an awful lot like
places in Detroit and otherwise. And starting to hear this sense and this
feeling that maybe sometimes University of Michigan jumps over
problems that we have right here in our home county
to try to get to places that maybe have more name recognition,
or are sort of more universally recognized.
So I think here at U of M we're starting to address some
of this stuff, and then I think President Schlissel brings a significant
commitment to trying to do better, especially with this data point number
one. And some of that is a result of
research and ideas that have come out of the Ford School with the
Go Blue Guarantee, which stemmed from the HAIL Scholarship, where we just
significantly changed the way that we communicate with
students from low income schools who we think could get into U of M, who
disproportionately have been opting out of applying because we think they
often think that they couldn't afford to come to a place like the
University of Michigan. And so, the HAIL Scholarship was this
experiment where they sent very simple materials... Well, I think of it
as like a coupon that said, "If you apply and get into U of
M, we will provide free tuition." And the response was incredible.
Now, we didn't actually add more money, is my understanding, we simply changed
the way that we communicated about the availability of financial aid,
and as Sue says, it has to be around this notion of guarantee.
We're gonna assume some of the risk.
And so because we did this experiment we saw that the difference was
quite striking, and that's led U of M to commit to the Go
Blue Guarantee, which is a program
that says, "Anybody who comes from families with incomes below $65,000 comes
tuition free for four years." And again, it's this guarantee that I think
Sue thinks is so incredibly important, that we're assuming a lot of that
risk in making a very complicated process more simplified. We have another
exciting program going on called Wolverine Pathways, which is a college
prep program for students in low income schools starting at seventh grade.
So it's gonna try to follow students
throughout the rest of their time in school and get them into U of M at
For my own work, I knew about this research on summer youth employment
programs. I knew that Brian and Trina were working in the City of
Detroit. One of the thing that really struck me was
that in the City of Detroit, for Grow Detroit's Young Talent,
they get something like 15,000 or 16,000 applications for this. So the idea
that there are... This, to me, speaks to the fact that there's a
lot of demand for programs like this, if they're, one, known about,
and two, accessible. In my own work,
through some research, qualitative and quantitative work that I've been
doing trying to understand what's going at the very bottom of society,
I had seen...
As we talked to families in the case... In my case,
I was talking to low income families in different parts of the country,
whenever I would ask "If we came back and you were doing better
in a year,
what would it look like?"
None of them would ever tell me, "I want more
cash assistance," or, "I want more government aid." Although I happen to
think that we should have those programs available.
To a person, they would say, "I'd like a job paying $10 to
$12 an hour, that offers stable hours, in a place of our own."
And so I think there's something that resonates with a program like summer
with people. It's acceptable, it's something that meets people's
needs and I think maybe enhances dignity. And so we, as we're... As
my associate director Julia Weinert says, as we're launching Poverty Solutions,
we also decided to launch a summer youth jobs program here at U of M. So
in the summer, a place like U of M has basically any job
available that you could think of. So we have jobs
working in research with faculty members, office jobs,
jobs in buildings and grounds,
jobs providing childcare over the course of the summer in some of our
child care centers. And so, we're thinking of this as maybe a way
that we could really leverage the resources of University of Michigan
to provide access to opportunity that wouldn't otherwise exist.
So we partnered with Washtenaw County and Michigan Works! We partnered with
the Youth Policy Lab that knew a lot
the best practices on these types of programs.
The Ginsberg Center was an important partner that directs, coordinates service
learning across the U. And in the first year, we created eight week
paid placements for youths ages 16 to 22 in jobs all across campus.
And I think one of the nice things
about this, one of... What we thought was one of our strengths,
was that if you get connected to the University of Michigan you also
get connected to a lot of resources such as an Mcard that can
get you on the bus for free. And all of our students got
set up with a U of M Credit Union account,
so everybody was banked by the end. And
we set up Friday enrichment sessions that covered a range of topics,
such as conflict management in the work place and how to apply to
college. And we're gonna be looking in year two to figure out
what else is there here at U of M in terms of training
opportunities that could be delivered in conjunction with the paid work
And I think maybe most importantly, we connected all of our youth to
a success coach. Now, this is something that maybe you probably can't do
when you have 9,000 placements across a large city. But there's a lot
of research suggesting that this sort of success coach who's someone who
you can connect with in a moment of crisis,
if you can't get to work, right, or
if you are having trouble managing a conflict with a supervisor,
can help you sort of figure out, strategize the best ways to deal
with that. And we think that that was an incredibly valuable
part of the project. Alright, well,
as with any time that you roll through
a new intervention, you learn a lot. And I'm not gonna take you
through this flow chart but I just wanted to highlight just a couple
of quick things. One, when we
got 220 applications, and we are pretty sure we could only place a
than we needed. But by the time we got to our first orientation
session we were down to 64 youth. And so, some of the kids,
we just never heard from. Some were underage, some were excluded.
And so I think it speaks to how challenging sometimes this can be
and how the assumption that if you build it, they will come,
doesn't always work out. Because of our success coaches, who were out
in the ground, we were able to bump those numbers back up to
a 108 youth that were randomly assigned at U of M. We had
a program and then the county had a program.
And once we got our students into jobs, our youth into jobs,
we kept all but one of them through the course the rest of
the summer. Really, it was a matter of getting to the point of
the first day of work that we were having to figure out what
some of the barriers were. And then through this rest of the summer
we had pretty good success.
We only at this point, 'cause we had relatively small samples,
know about how they felt about the program. And we are pleased
that they felt better equipped to do things like apply to college.
That makes a lot of sense at U of M, and I think
something that we're gonna think of as an advantage going forward.
They felt better prepared to apply for jobs.
And 96% said they were better prepared to interview. And the program had
a lot of experiences of both doing a short interview at the beginning
of the placement and building a lot of those skills over the summer.
Just two notes that I wanted to say. Youths seem to like the
program a lot, but they very much did not like it being connected
to something called Poverty Solutions.
Makes a ton of sense, right? A name like Poverty Solutions,
I think, resonates with a certain crowd. But trying to understand how we're
communicating these things and what we're doing
is... Even as an expert on poverty, this one caught me off guard.
Another thing is, we think of this as much sort of building knowledge
for youth, helping them with success and also building knowledge here at
U of M. So we had a lot of youth who would come
back to their sessions and say, "Is anybody else in placements where everybody
else is white?"
And I think the enrichment sessions were really helpful in helping
youth navigate that. And it speaks to, I think, where we have
a long way to go here at U of M to keep on
going. And the final thing I just wanted to mention was,
we're thinking a lot about the right level of targeting.
One question is, we could make this a program that's strictly serves low
income youth. Or last year, because we had extra placements, we increased
the span of students
a little higher up the economic ladder. And we think
maybe the targeting does a disadvantage. Maybe we shouldn't be creating
programs that only serve low income youth, but try to
bring kids together from across the income distribution.
We learned a lot, a lot more to go,
and we're looking forward to next year. Thank you.
Hi, I'm Paula Lantz, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs here at the Ford
School. And it's going to be my fun to
help moderate now discussion, Q&A session with our amazing panelists.
Let me apologize at the outset here, I doubt we're gonna have enough time
to get to everyone's questions, and I also know for sure I'm not
gonna be able to keep track of who raised his or her hand
in what order. So I will do my best to kind of... We'll make
our way around the room.
keep your questions or comments pretty succinct, so we have time to get
to as many people as possible. And I'm just gonna open it right
up. Who has something they would like to
ask? Sylvia. Yeah. Thank you for the presentations. They were all excellent.
I just wanted to make a comment.
Okay. I just wanted to make a comment about Luke's remarks that the
students didn't like to be tied to the notion of Poverty Solutions.
Many years ago now, Claude Steele who was an African American social psychologist
and the author of the notion of stereotype threat, and he ran a
program here at the University of Michigan in Markley Hall
for gifted undergraduate minority students. And his argument was that students
didn't want to receive a letter saying, "You have been chosen because you
are a minority student." They wanted to receive a letter that said,
"You have been chosen because you are an excellent student." And so I
think it does make a difference to students' sense of self worth and
how they enter and function in the program.
Great. Thanks. Yeah. I was wondering if you guys can talk about how
you go about getting funding and sponsors to work with you on these
projects. Well, certainly with respect to My Brother's Keeper,
there are still some federal resources that come, but a lot of it
really is coming out of the private sector,
either through local governments... The Grow Detroit's Young Talent program,
for example, is part of MBK Detroit and the seedy investments that have
been made by the private sector to provide
apprenticeship programs and summer jobs. It's just critical to being able
to continue this work, and in fact, there is a responsibility that private
sector has. We also receive some foundation money and a lot of the
local MBK communities get a lot of foundation, local foundation and national
foundation money as well.
We need a whole lot more money though, that's for sure.
And so now that President Obama can raise money for My Brother's Keeper,
it should be a tremendous boost for the resources that we can provide.
How about... Do either Luke or Brian have anything
to say about funding? And can I just put a little twist on
that too? We all know that programs come and go, even programs that
have really good evaluation results and they often go because there's a
lack of sustainability for funding. So that's a really excellent question
to think about ongoing, committed resources to keep programs we know work
going. So, I can speak very quickly to... One thing we debated as
we were starting out was whether or not Poverty Solutions, which has a
budget from the U of M, should pay the wages of the youth
to work in the different departments or should pay some
fraction of it. And in the end, we actually said, "Well,
let's see how many placements we get if we just ask the departments to
pay the wages."
And we got offers of 77 placements across the U, and of course
could only actually field 40 youth in the first year. So,
this of course I think is unusual in that
doing a placement for eight weeks at $9 an hour was something like
$1800, doesn't seem like a lot of money to a U of M
Department, of course, this is an affluent place. But I think it does
speak to the importance of
trying to be strategic about your revenue streams
from the start because we could've very well
decided that we... We could've made the decision at the front end that
we needed to pay for the placements, and
then we would've been sort of locked into that. I think we would've set
up an expectation going forward that we were gonna
pay for the placements. And because we didn't do it, which I think
was partly a matter of luck from our point that that's what we
we saw that people were really, across the departments, were really to field
this cost and I think it makes it at least look more sustainable
to the U rather than having to say, "We're gonna dedicate $100,000 a
year chunk." And with Grow Detroit's Young Talent,
this is an interesting thing
of who does pay the placements. And of course then,
you have to look at the evidence to see
what that means about if a private employer is paying the placement,
who are they serving as well. Right? Right. I think... So the Youth
Policy Lab gets funding from foundations and some kind of
research grants, and I think there are tradeoffs. It's exactly true in
the employer sponsored internships in Grow Detroit's Young Talent, they
are very selective and they have minimum academic criteria and then they
do interviews in a career fair where they select the youth that they
would like to work for them. And I think that, again like many
things, there's tradeoffs. In some ways, that really is a nice simulation
of the job search
and it's a realistic setting and
it helps youth get prepared for that sort of market, but it may
not be serving some youth that aren't as prepared at the beginning.
The other quick thing with... Well, I'll stop there. Go ahead. We have...
Yeah, go for it. I actually have a program... I mean, sorry, a
question for you, Brian, for the research evaluation for how the program
has worked... Oh, I'm sorry, can you hear me? Is that better?
Okay. For the research results that you showed for the program for Detroit
youth, how long was that research evaluated? Was it just a one year
and then people asked their questions? Because I actually participated in
that program when I was in high school which was several years ago
when it was the Detroit Youth Program or whatever it was.
So, what were your results in terms of timeline? The results I presented
were just for youth who participated in summer of 2015 and summer of 2016,
and they were impacts after two years. So, in either '16 or '17. Now
I forget who mentioned it, but he talked about having a gap between
those who want to mentor and those who are in need of mentors
so both he and I work for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County
and we have a extremely hard time to get volunteers and bigs as
we call them. So with there's having so much need or want to
be a mentor we're trying to find out how can we get to
those people who are wanting to be those individuals.
So that... Are you familiar with Mentors, Inc? Yes. That organization,
so they're putting a lot more resources into exactly this issue of
helping to identify people and setting the expectations of people who could
be mentors. But look, I don't know how many of you saw the
Seth Curry video with President Obama. It was last year during the NBA
That got... And it was about being a mentor and it was kind of funny
'cause it shows President Obama helping Seth Curry learn how to shoot better.
But the number... There were several million people who viewed that video
over and over again and saw an uptick in the number.
And so have to use influencers who can help and in this area
whether, it be Michigan athletes and also... And other leaders here,
or be like the Detroit Pistons.
We can draw more attention to the great need but it is a
great need, there's no questions about that. Let's make sure we have you
connected to the Ginsberg center. Is Sarah still here somewhere? Okay,
Sarah I think...
Okay, already connected, okay. Great. Thanks...
Oh, okay. We have a questions over
here. Hi. I run a youth program in Detroit called Mosaic Youth Theater
of Detroit and what we experience and many other youth programs in Detroit
experience is that the greatest barrier for low income youth is transportation.
I'm just wondering a lot of the transportation innovation that's going on
nationally and in Detroit seems to be based on 18 and older.
Any thoughts about what is happening in terms of addressing the transportation
gap? So I don't have any specific ones
that I'm aware of. I'm sure in some of these MBK communities they
are addressing the transportation issues. I understand that Detroit, historically
anyway, has had some very unique problems that are
on a better path to getting fixed now, but
specific to other ones in other communities, I'm not sure about.
Is Detroit fixing its transportation issues? Some. Well you know what President
Obama used to always say, so
better is good. So let me start with that, is it
better? Getting better... For large groups of young people there's no discernible
impact, positive. Yeah. So I'm hoping that we're gonna start to see some
change there. So we just seeded some money for
some folks at the engineering school that's working with the new mobility
director in the city around looking at some alternative models to really
Folks at the engineering school think that we can tighten up our bus
routes and connect people to bus routes with personalized shuttles and reduce
cost and commute times, so I think we're trying to be our own
guinea pigs on this. We've been rolling it out in the U of
M system which actually has a ridership that rivals the city of Detroit.
And we've just provided some additional funds to do the research that they
need to figure out how they set up the systems. We definitely think
it's a critical issue. You see it for school, you see it for
work, and so we're investing some in it and we'd like to do
more, so we'd welcome ideas. Thanks... Hi, so my question is more for
Mr. Johnson. I actually had the fortune of taking Professor Lantz's program
evaluation course and one of the things that we talked about was the
Ban the Box movement and how there's some people who are concerned that
despite the best of intentions there might be be unintended consequences
where men of color potentially have lower employment rates in places where
the box is banned due to concerns that
because they're no longer able to filter out who potentially did have a
felony or was incarcerated, they use color then as a proxy.
I was wondering what your evidence has found and how you can potentially
try to get more to the foundation of the problem if Ban the
Box maybe doesn't get the whole solution. Yeah, I know there was some
research that someone at either... I think it was at Brookings,
did some report
addressing this particular problem about Ban the Box. And I guess I would
say we've seen studies, we've seen evidence of the opposite, quite frankly.
And sure... It's against the law to use
as a factor here, so
if that law, if it's being violated by employers and they are exposing
themselves to civil rights violations... I don't know if you all saw The
New York Times story yesterday though about... Because we're in an almost
full employment economic situation that so many employers are now hiring
people who are incarcerated or formally incarcerated and
so the dynamic has changed considerably, and so therefore Ban the Box issues,
I think, certainly from a corporate perspective, not force by government,
although I think it should be certainly dictated by government and many
local governments do that, but we're coming to a different place because
of the unemployment rate. Now we're not gonna stay at this rate of
unemployment. We're gonna certainly see at some point a down turn in the
economy so the importance of Ban the Box doesn't go away.
Thank you. Thanks. Thank you guys so much for telling about the wonderful
work that you're working on. My name is Camille Tines. I'm a youth
and community development consultant born and raised in Detroit and so this
type of work is my love. My question is,
we've been hearing so much about the new innovative approaches that are
taking place, these amazing programs, and even seeing some of the statistics
and the reports are like, "Oh, this is great."
My only caveat or concern is, how much community collaboration of all participants
of the process are included, so not just, say, certain funders or key
stakeholders or amazing U of M but actually the people that are being
served, 'cause I know oftentimes... Like I've worked in roles from being
a youth specialist to program evaluation and even doing some contracts and
grants management, so thats allowed me to see that oftentimes the numbers
paint a pretty story, but then when you get to the on the
ground work or you actually see your local or national outcomes,
there's a disconnect. So, my question to you guys is... So you're talking
about how you're recruiting so many youth but sometimes there are issues
of retainment or things of that sort or like, what are those barriers?
If, say, youth or whoever you're serving is included not just in the
survey but in the long term process, say maybe... Not just in a
focus group but more like... I don't know, like a board of directors
or whatever, however you would term it for what you're doing.
But in the long term, a collaboration approach to see where can we
problem solve and how can we implement better, and is that something in
the works right now? So we insisted in the development of these local
action plans that communities would send us to the White House to say
they wanted to be an MBK community that a part of us recognizing...
We didn't give awards for it, you know, although that phase may come
later, again it was more self identification, but we said from the start
if you're going to submit a... Basically a request that you be an
MBK community and tout yourself that way that you have to demonstrate that
you have youth involved in your efforts from a leadership perspective as
well. So MBK Boston for example, of their board of directors of I
think 15, two of them are youth who started when they were high
so any effort of calling yourself MBK that does not involve youth not
just as sort of the specimens, right, to measure the impact but also
to help develop the effective programs isn't worth its salt. Yeah. We're
trying to approach this in a number of different ways and figure out
what the best ways to engage across number of levels so I think
with our Summer Youth Program at U of
M we're getting feedback from and very close partnerships at a lot of different
levels with the county, with the County Government, with nonprofits and
with youths in particular. I think we'd like to start drawing success coaches
from previous participants, right, as a way to really connect the experience.
In the city of Detroit I would say we're hiring an outreach director
who can be on the ground I think
being more connected.
But another thing I am super excited about is the work by Liz
Gerber and Jeff Morenoff on the Detroit Metropolitan Area Communities Study.
You guys could mention to them that the name's a little long and
they should maybe tighten it up, if you wouldn't mind.
But they just received a grant from the Knight Foundation
and the model is that we're gonna... We've constructed sort of a random
sample clustered in communities and we're hiring Detroit residents who will
then canvas those communities to get us on the ground
representative information of how people are seeing investments in city.
We think that the community members who are going to be part of
the outreach group can help tailoring the questions. So we pilot this last
summer and, you know, a lot of language that made a lot of
sense to nerdy professors like me, where they were like, yeah,
maybe we can change that a little bit,
and so we'd like to institutionalize that. And I think it gets at lot
of what you just said. One of the things that I think about
a lot in the first wave of that survey they found something like
a sense of the magnitude of the hardship
is key, and getting a sense of how people are perceiving what's going on
in the city really can help
develop policy, so I think we have to do it at a couple
Thanks. Thank you. This is kind of a follow up question to the
transportation question that was asked earlier and it's inspired
because I think a lot of the times under resourced youth feel the
need to escape from their communities because they think there is no hope
in getting any help from their local communities, and I was just wondering
if there is any efforts being made by any of these programs that
were talked about earlier in perhaps desegregating school systems or
finding more equality to
disperse the resources to all schools instead of a certain number of advantaged
youth. I think there's... There
are not a lot of
formal efforts towards school integration
these days, in fact recent research suggests it's been going in the opposite
direction, a lot of districts that had been under federal consent decrees
to actively desegregate in some way those consent decrees, which are 20,
lifted. I mean, I think the primary way public school districts think about
integration now is through
open enrolment systems or schools of choice, which is partly maybe charter
schools, but also partly any other public school in the district.
Most big, urban, big city urban school districts have
fairly well developed choice systems that allow students to go to
any number of schools within the district. The downside there is transportation,
and it's often the... The freedom to go somewhere isn't very useful if
you can't get there.
And the other issue is that it is only within the district,
and a lot of residential segregation over the last 30 years has taken
a place across districts. And so, even if you could perfectly integrate
the Detroit public schools community district,
it wouldn't be nearly as integrated on race or socioeconomic status as you
would want now because of residential segregation. It's a big... There's
not a very easy...
There's no easy
solutions. A minute left. Quickly? Thanks. Yeah. I've read a lot of studies
in articles that suggest that the conditions of schools, how nice they are,
the facilities, they have an effect on the confidence and the sense of worth
that the students have. And some studies have shown to positive correlation
on test scores and those matters. So do you think this is a
big part of the efforts we've been discussing today, pumping more money
into the public schools to revamp the conditions, get better textbook and
better facilities to boost that confidence of the students? So can I say
something about what I have found
deeply troubling about the school system in my hometown of Baltimore?
You probably saw some of the national reports of what happened there over
the last couple weeks because of the incredible cold
that we had on the East Coast. That 60 of the Baltimore schools
didn't have heat for a period of three or four days,
and yet... And these were elementary through high schools.
And this meant that six and seven year olds were
in 40 degree temperatures in classrooms for days,
and you could see icicles forming outside the building.
And 86% of those children, it turned out also, receive free or reduced
lunches or meals, so they needed to be in school.
But you had this
unacceptable, I think, kind of a blame game that was going around where
you had administrators of the school system
saying that there were all sorts of infrastructure issues, there were legacy
issues that they inherited. And then you had
other folks, other adults saying, "It's kind of not our fault,
we'll fix it." But for the children and their parents, going to your
issue about self esteem, I mean it just seems like adults shouldn't be
giving excuses for that ever happening, and if it does, fix it immediately
four, five days of children being subjected to that. It does make a
big difference. And yet, so much then of the work that President Obama has
directed goes to alleviating those institutional issues that get in the
way oftentimes of children having even the most basic options, so at least
they can have after school related programs where they can feel like someone
cares about them or they have a mentor they can turn to.
Great. So... Thank you. Let me wrap up by
doing three thank yous. First of all, Mr. Johnson. Thank you for coming
today, and... Thank you, you're welcome. Coming to the frostbite falls of
taking time out of your busy schedule. But also thank you for being willing
to come back and be a Towsley Policymaker in Residence. We are all
beyond thrilled. So that's fantastic. Thank you. Thank you to Brian and
Luke for also sharing their experiences and expertise. And also, I wanna
thank all of you for coming, and I also wanna thank all of
you in this room. I know many of you in this room are
engaged in doing work to make the exceptional
no longer the exception. So thanks for coming today. Happy Martin Luther
King Day, and thank you all very much.