In St. Paul, NLC Leaders Host Afterschool Symposium

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Today, in conjunction with the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, NLC leaders convened four mayors in Saint Paul, Minnesota to explore how city officials and business leaders can partner with local afterschool and summer learning programs to address the “work force skills gap,” and help ensure local children and youth have the skills necessary to enter the 21st Century workforce.

Hosting the event are NLC President and Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas Mark Stodola, First Vice President and Mayor of Gary, Indiana, Karen Freeman-Wilson, and former-NLC President and Mayor of Saint Paul Christopher Coleman.

Each mayor, including the hosts, brought along a local corporate leader to represent their city’s business community in discussing this exciting new avenue for workforce development.

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(Left to Right): Former-NLC President and Mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota Christopher Coleman; NLC President and Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas Mark Stodola; and First Vice President and Mayor of Gary, Indiana Karen Freeman-Wilson welcomes attendees at the Mayors and Corporate Leaders Symposium last night in Saint Paul.

As hosts of the Mayors and Corporate Leaders Symposium: Afterschool and Summer Learning as a Strategy to Address the Workforce Skills Crisis, Mayors Stodola, Freeman-Wilson and Coleman have long championed the idea that there are opportunities at every stage of development to help our children build the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

“One of my main priorities as a mayor is preparing my city’s workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. At the forefront of my agenda is supporting afterschool and summer programs, which can help young people develop the skills they need to participate in our rapidly changing economy,” Mayor Stodola said. 

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“City officials and business leaders must work together to make a serious and sustainable investment in programs that support our children and youth. I am proud to bring together mayors and local business leaders to explore how we can join forces and partner on afterschool and summer learning. It is imperative that we invest as much as possible in our children and youth today, as they will build the economy of tomorrow.”

At the symposium, mayors and their corporate partners explored how they can partner with local afterschool and summer learning programs to address the “workforce skills gap,” which are the skills 21st Century employers need their workforce to have but find prospective employees are lacking. Particular focus was given to the development of necessary social and emotional skills (sometimes referred to as “soft, foundational or employability skills”) and the impact that large or persistent skills gaps may have on their city’s economy.

Mayors who took part in the symposium include Baltimore, Maryland Mayor Catherine Pugh; Chattanooga, Tennessee Mayor Andy Berke; Fort Worth, Texas Mayor Betsy Price; Gary, Indiana Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; Little Rock, Arkansas Mayor Mark Stodola; Rochester, New York Mayor Lovely Warren; and Saint Paul, Minnesota Mayor Christopher Coleman.

Local corporate partners at the symposium included, Calvin Butler, Jr., CEO Baltimore Gas and Electric; Valoria Armstrong, president of Tennessee American Water in Chattanooga; Barbara M. Williams, partner at Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP in Fort Worth; Vance Kenney, managing partner at 504 Redevelopment, LLC in Gary; Marla Johnson, CEO Aristotle Inc. and Long Range Planning Chair at the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce; Tyrone Reaves, president of Truform Manufacturing/YAMTEP, Inc. in Rochester; and Chris Hilger, CEO, and Kristi Fox, Vice President of Talent Solutions and Chief Diversity Officer at Securian Financial Group in Saint Paul.

National League of Cities Corporate Partners at the symposium included Tammy Hartman, vice president of Corporate Affairs at Clear Channel Outdoor; Leanne Holmberg, regional human resources director, and Keith Morris, senior director of Community Relations at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; and Richard Leadbetter, global manager for local Government Industry Solution at Esri.

The Mayors and Corporate Leaders Symposium: Afterschool and Summer Learning as a Strategy to Address the Workforce Skills Crisis was made possible with the generous support of The Wallace Foundation.

For more information on NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) Afterschool and Summer Learning, click here.

todd wilson headshotAbout the Author: Todd Allen Wilson is the Senior Staff Writer at the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.

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