Ask Jerry Roberts about his visits to Midwest Urban Strategies cities that include meetings with members workforce boards, partners, and other stakeholders, he usually remembers and refers to an “aha moment.”
“It’s about getting people to work,” Jerry said. “But from a funding perspective, it’s all about leveraging and expanding the resources that exist while we look for new resources. If we can leverage our partnerships and the ideation that happens in spaces when people come together, it can help us have outcomes that we want.”
Jerry serves as the director of philanthropic and corporate engagement for MUS. Last month we recounted a trip Jerry made to Milwaukee to visit Employ Milwaukee. This month, we’re highlighting his visit to Indianapolis where he met with the Employ Indy workforce board and built stronger relationships with partners like United Way, the Lumina Foundation, and the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC).
The trips to MUS cities are always productive and include networking, connecting, and communicating with national funders on workforce issues. He also spends a significant portion of his time working with local funders and workforce development boards as he travels around to MUS member organizations.
Learning from the MUS partners helps Jerry inform strategy for reaching out to more regional and national funders to help not only the activities and leverage the resources in a city like Indianapolis, but also the consortium as a whole. That helps him create a larger picture or more complete picture in the work that’s being done in all the cities to make the case for national funders.
“To learn what the partners are doing on the ground and how they’re engaging with philanthropy where there are opportunities is helpful,” he said. “It helps inform me how local philanthropy is looking at workforce development and how we can leverage that to access national philanthropy.”
As often is the case, Jerry is impressed by the work being done by our MUS members.
“Employ Indy really has a pulse on what’s happening. They have really good relationships with their partners and they’re having conversations around workforce,” Jerry said. “They have a pulse on their partners like United Way and LISC but also those relationships with civic groups like the City of Indianapolis or Marion County to really have a grasp on the economic development projects that are happening.
“I was really, really impressed with Employ Indy and how connected they are.”
Jerry enjoys seeing up close the mission of Midwest Urban Strategies getting carried out and implemented.
“What really is rewarding for me is getting a better understanding of the individuals places – the city itself – and having these aha moments where I see the similarities between cities, but also where there’s great opportunity to share something new that I learned in one place that other cities may not be doing so we can share in the network,” he said. “That, to me, is the most rewarding.”
To read more about these MUS partners: