Category Archives: Job Training

Baltimore and Beyond: Creating Opportunity in Places – Brookings Institution Forum

For links to Video, Audio & Transcript:

Informative and insightful forum hosted by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, “featuring hands-on experts to reflect on promising practices to help young people and families in distressed communities participate in an advanced economy that works for all.”


May 21, 2015

Summary: “Recent events in Baltimore and St. Louis underscore the enduring challenges the nation faces in trying to create neighborhoods of opportunity amid entrenched poverty, long-term disinvestment, and stark racial divides. Baltimore was an early pioneer in applying new comprehensive approaches to neighborhood revitalization. Since then, the practice of joining people- and place-based strategies has evolved, driven by both public and private sector leaders. The Great Recession has reversed progress in some ways as unemployment, foreclosures, and stagnant wages increased poverty. As the nation now focuses on its struggling urban areas, it is critical to broadly examine what cities, counties, and the nation have learned since the redevelopment of Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood….”


Welcome by Jennifer S. Vey, Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program

Panel Discussion

Amy Liu (Moderator) — Co-Director and Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program

Derek Douglas — Vice President for Civic Engagement, The University of Chicago

Frederick B. (Bart) Harvey III — Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Community Partners

Joel Miranda — Director of Leadership Development and Graduate Leadership, YouthBuild USA

Donald Hinkle-Brown — President/CEO, The Reinvestment Fund

Michael Smith — Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for ‘My Brother’s Keeper’, The White House


Los Angeles 1992 to Baltimore 2015: Washington’s Changed Response to Urban CrisisBruce Katz. Brookings Institution. May 27, 2015.

Beyond Baltimore: Building on What We Know to Create Neighborhood Opportunities. Amy Liu. Brookings Institution. May 12, 2015.

Yes, There Are Two Baltimores. Jennifer S. Vey and Alan Berube. Brookings Institution. May 15, 2015.

Good Fortune, Dire Poverty, and Inequality in Baltimore: An American Story. Alan Berube and Brad McDearman. Brookings Institution. May 11, 2015.


Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework


Check out the new book, Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework. The book:

  • Examines the great potential with respect to the powerful nexus among: black earning/buying/investing power, philanthropy and resource-pooling, buying/banking black, entrepreneurship, business development, job creation, wealth-building, and economic and social progress 
  • Shows how a potent, large-scale resource-pooling vehicle with a comprehensive framework that is able to harness this potential, especially with the galvanizing power of online and social media, can have immense impact 
  • Presents a framework for establishing such an initiative, in the form of a national impact investment fund — the “Excellence and Ventures Transformation Fund” (or “EXCEL-TRANSFORM Fund”) — that would address unemployment and poverty and help finish the “unfinished business” of the civil rights movement.

[Full disclosure: the author, Dr. Michael Isimbabi, a finance and energy industry professional, consultant, and former professor of finance, is affiliated with this website.]

Look inside the book (the first 10%) for free and get it here (at

Also join the discussion on the feasibility and establishment of the EXCEL-TRANSFORM Fund, innovative strategies for self-reliant resource-pooling, and related philanthropy, entrepreneurship, impact investing and empowerment issues at the book’s website,, and Google Plus.

Pooling Our Resources on a Large, Transformative Scale: Breaking Through the Trust Barrier

The “trust barrier” is the major obstacle hampering the establishment of a large-scale, self-reliance-based resource-pooling fund that can have a transformational impact in addressing urgent problems in our distressed communities. Even black churches are losing trust and credibility among many African Americans. There would be no “trust barrier,” however, if, for instance, five or more of the most respected African Americans got together to start a fund and hired a few highly competent people to run it.

A fund backed by such an ideal “dream team” is unlikely or infeasible (but not impossible!). The more likely way it will happen: a few visionary, motivated, and accomplished entrepreneurs who have solid, unblemished reputations, armed with a sound and credible business plan, convince some less well-known but equally highly-regarded people to back the fund. 

Such backing need not even be financial: by virtue of their strong reputations, relationships, and public standing, just lending their credibility, prestige, gravitas, and imprimatur to the fund will provide it with the instant credibility it needs to be able to attract contributions from large numbers of African Americans even at start-up.  This is the most likely way a potent large-scale fund will get established. 

As discussed in the article, Financing Black Progress, Part 1: A Publicly Financed “Marshall Plan” Is Unrealistic, So What’s the Alternative? A “Self-Reliance Marshall Plan”?, given the current noxious and racially-charged political environment — in which even the reasonable and very modest American Jobs Act remains stalled in Congress — waiting for massive public investment in initiatives that can transform distressed communities of color is largely futile.

And there is no indication this situation will change in the near future. Regardless of who is president and whether or not Democrats retain control of the Senate and/or retake the House in 2013, Congress will most likely remain closely divided, highly polarized and acrimonious, and is unlikely to pass any legislation to fund, on a substantial enough scale, the types of initiatives that can sufficiently meet the dire needs of these communities.

Rather than simply standing by helplessly and wringing our hands while Congress remains gridlocked and yet another generation of children in distressed communities remains trapped in poverty and dysfunction, we must focus on organizing proactive self-reliance approaches to transform our own communities.

By pooling our resources on a large enough scale, we would be able to amass sufficient capital to adequately attack the most critical problems in our communities, especially with respect to education, entrepreneurship and business development, job creation, and wealth-building. The article, Financing Black Progress, Part 2: A Self-Reliance “Marshall Plan”: Creating a National Resource-Pooling Fund, discusses such a resource pooling effort–a National Ventures & Excellence Fund or “EXCEL Fund”. Continue reading

Starbucks’ “Create Jobs for USA:” Demonstrating the Potential of a Resource Pooling Fund?

Like OIC of America’s Entrepreneur Mindset Initiative, Starbucks’ Create Jobs for USA is another initiative that can demonstrate the immense potential of pooling small amounts from large numbers of people to foster entrepreneurship and job creation in underserved communities, e.g., as conceptualized in the “National Venture & Excellence Fund” (or “EXCEL Fund”) discussed in the article, Financing Black Progress, Part 2: A Self-Reliance “Marshall Plan”: Creating a National Resource-Pooling Fund.

According to the Create Jobs for USA website (“How It Works”):

“Starbucks has teamed up with Opportunity Finance Network® (OFN) to help create and sustain jobs. The Create Jobs for USA program provides capital grants to select Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The CDFIs will provide loans to underserved community businesses, which include small businesses, microenterprises, nonprofit organizations, commercial real estate, and affordable housing. The goal of Create Jobs for USA is to bring people and communities together to create and sustain jobs throughout America. Continue reading

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Self-Reliance and “Pooling Our Resources”

MLK_Chicago rally“We need to pool our resources” has been a recurring exhortation in the African American community for decades. For example, here’s Dr. Martin Luther King in a 1958 interview:

Question: Do you think Negroes are partly responsible for their plight? They don’t stick together and they don’t help each other. Negroes, for example, will walk past a Negro-owned grocery store or shoe shop to get to a white place. Instead of trying to make themselves financially independent, most Negroes are trying to keep up with the Joneses. Isn’t it time for us to stop begging and stand on our own feet? 

Dr. King: I quite agree that there is a great deal that the Negro can do to lift himself by his own bootstraps. Well has it been said by one that Negroes too often buy what they want and beg for what they need. Negroes must learn to practice systematic saving. They must also pool their economic resources through various cooperative enterprises. Such agencies as credit unions, savings and loan associations, and finance companies are needed in every Negro community. All of these are things that would serve to lift the economic level of the Negro which would in turn give him greater purchasing power. This increased purchasing power will inevitably make for better housing, better health standards, and for better educational standards.

From: “Advice for Living,” The King Papers Project, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University —