MDC’s Networking for Southern Economic Mobility virtual learning series offers a space for communities to discuss strategies, tackle challenges, and develop solutions to creating opportunity and equity for youth and young adults across the South.

Conversations and strategy sessions in 2020-2021 will focus on the implications of the current public health crisis, economic disruption, and social upheaval on systemic efforts to improve economic mobility.

The events of the last few months have amplified both the gaps and assets of institutions and systems across the nation. The series will explore how people across the South are building the infrastructure of opportunity to respond to these challenges.

These conversations will be an opportunity to learn and strategize together about how to move beyond recovery to creation of systems that enable a South where all people thrive.

This series is made possible through the generous support of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, JPB Foundation, and Kresge Foundation.


Helping Young People Build Social Capital During Social Distancing 

October 14, 2020

As the nation reckons with a public health crisis, economic uncertainty, and ongoing racial injustice, many youth and young adults are caught in the convergence of disruption at a critical time in their lives. Already tenuous education and employment opportunities have become more vulnerable, and structural inequities that create barriers for youth of color have exacerbated the challenges of the pandemic at a time when they may be facing significant stress and trauma. Some young people will be able to tap into well-developed social networks to stay on track and physically and mentally healthy during this crisis. Others may have more difficulty maintaining or establishing connections that are critical for meeting basic needs and planning for the future. How can we support young people as they navigate this crisis?

This became a lively discussion about how communities can respond to these challenges and meet young people where they are with the support they need. The panelists have experience integrating social capital development into youth workforce development programming, leading mentoring programs, and researching the links between mentor relationships and social capital:
•    Edward DeJesus, President, Social Capital Builders
•    Lorenzo Lewis, Founder and CEO, Little Rock, AR’s Confess Project
•    Dr. Grace Gowdy, Assistant Professor, NC A&T

View the webinar here on Vimeo. Or watch it here on Facebook Live. For biographies of the speakers, click here.

Additional Resources

Here are research and publications from Ed DeJesus and Grace Gowdy.

Learn more about Lorenzo Lewis and The Confess Project here.

A new book from Michael Collins and Nancy Hoffman of Jobs for the Future, Teaching Students About the World of Work, examines how postsecondary institutions can help students develop and deploy social capital.

A variety of research briefs and tools from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and RTI look at ways that human services providers can use social capital to improve well-being and economic mobility, including a new Social Capital Handbook.

And here are four webinars from RTI and NCImpact on a variety of social capital development topics:

Sustaining and Investing in the Infrastructure of Opportunity

August 25, 2020

MDC Board Chair Darrin Goss, President and CEO of Coastal Community Foundation in Charleston, S.C., moderated a discussion with Christopher Nanni, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, and Justin Maxson, CEO of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. The conversation focused on the challenges and opportunities of supporting an infrastructure that keeps people from falling through the cracks while still advancing long term systems change. The foundation leaders shared how they responded to support their communities in the early days of the pandemic, as well as their long game for meeting this moment of public health crisis, economic disruption, and social upheaval

View the webinar here. For biographies of the speakers, click here. And to see the webinar's slides, click here.

The State of the South Today

June 24, 2020

In this 90-minute webinar, Dr. Rebecca Tippett, a demographer at UNC’s Carolina Population Center presented data about demographic shifts in the South and the education and employment prospects for youth and young adults in the aftermath of COVID-19’s health and economic disruptions. The presentation was followed by reactions and insight from two leaders of Made in Durham (MID), Genesis Danquah (member, MID Youth Network) and Casey Steinbacher (executive director, MID). Made in Durham is a public-private partnership offering a bold and creative response committed to helping youth and young adults secure meaningful employment by age 25.

Upcoming webinars

Over the next few months, we will host events on the following topics:

  • Working Through COVID-19: What federal and state policy and system responses might help communities respond to the needs of young people seeking employment, as well as unemployed or underemployed parents?
  • Building Social Capital after Social Distancing: What can we do to support young people as they move into the world of work and develop their professional social network after the ruptures of COVID-19?

For more information on MDC and Network for Southern Economic Mobility, contact Mala Thakur.