By Suzii Paynter March
November is my favorite month – it’s my birthday month. Prosper Waco is also celebrating the birth of new collaborations and focus in each of our areas for 2020. Think of this as the picture window outside the hospital nursery with those adorable newborns in swaddled blankets.
One newborn in the PW nursery is an initiative called Promise, to assess needs and opportunities for our high school graduates as they face the shoreline of school, career, and military choices. Building on the history of MAC grants and mentorship, can Waco grow up to a Promise program like other Texas cities? I think this will be a strong healthy Promise child before long.
Another newborn in Prosper Waco’s workforce area is the Rapid Workforce Training program led by Tiffany Gallegos Whitley. If this is a newborn effort, then you could say it has a big family because of her many collaborators across the city, higher ed partners, and local industries.
Another adorable and popular newborn is the Waco RoundTable platform, bringing data, maps, and collaborations to life – and bringing people together for the common good.
In behavioral health there are a couple of identical twins, one project to collect important client experiences through a treatment cycle and after discharge and a second project to provide a safety net of social support for folks with behavioral health needs to help stabilize important areas of their lives. Waco has so many behavioral health needs, we just wish these twins could grow double FAST.
One long awaited newborn is the City Blueprint for Financial Empowerment, outlining six major areas for strengthening financial security on Waco. This baby brings forward new efforts and collaborations for equity and resiliency and is perfectly timed for a post-COVID birthday – baby, we need you now!
And, look here, triplets! A set of three initiatives looking at the regional issue of teacher shortage, supply, and training. It isn’t just one district or one higher ed program that will be seeking teachers; we expect a tsunami of need for well-qualified, dedicated teachers. These newborns are coming along at a perfect time.
We are celebrating the birth and healthy growth of these 2020 newborns. Aren’t they adorable? Aren’t they full of promise? The good news is that they are not orphan projects. All these efforts have the family and support of the Prosper Waco team, the talent and commitment of Waco leadership, the interest of a wide variety of funders and the engagement of on-the-ground experts with lived experience and hands-on strategies. Everyday we talk about the Wacoans — men, women, children, just folks — who will benefit from the growth and health of each of these newborns.
November is also Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. I am so grateful for the legacy leaders of Prosper Waco who have nurtured this organization over the years and who — through investment of time, love of Waco, and hard work — have passed on good organizational genes. They have modeled dedication and creative investment, and now new generations of Wacoans are leading the way, following in their footsteps with strong steps… and maybe even a couple of leaps and bounds!
Suzii Paynter March is chief executive officer of Prosper Waco.