A Global Perspective: Guest Blogger

September 8th, 2015

Grace Williams | Consumer Credit Analyst, HOPE

I spend my days in HOPE Enterprise Corporation’s corporate office in Jackson, Mississippi, working with members across the Mid South – the most economically distressed region of the United States. It is easy, sometimes, to forget just how big the world is and that many of the issues faced by our members are faced by people all around the globe. I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Global Shapers’ Annual Curators Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, which reminded me of just how critical our work is and how important the impact we make at HOPE is to the Mid South community.

Global Shapers is an initiative of the World Economic Forum – a network that organizes young adults worldwide to engage in their local communities to initiate positive change. Each summer, new “Curators” are elected from Hubs (cities around the world) and meet in Geneva. Hub representatives present their projects to other globally minded, world changers. During my time there, I heard great ideas from several Hubs that are making a difference in communities around the world. Here are a few of my favorite programs

Youth unemployment: The Hub from Montevideo, Uruguay, shared their project “Ideas to Enlighten,” which seeks to ‘Promote social entrepreneurship amongst youth in Uruguay by providing inspirational examples, tools to detect social problems and creative workshops.” The Hub’s goal is to gain an understanding of socioeconomic issues from the experience of young people and hear their ideas for positive change.

Education: The Hub from Lisbon, Portugal, shared “Inspire Your Teacher,” which was designed to demonstrate the impact teachers have on students’ futures and ultimately society. The program challenges students to create inspirational messages for teachers and take ownership of how their actions influence their teachers’ and class’ performance.

Female workforce development: The Hub from Ankara, Turkey, presented the “Felt Project,” which increases women’s participation in the labor force by reviving traditional felting techniques to create sellable products. Hub members work with unemployed women, many of whom already were familiar with felting, to create ornaments, scarves, and other items, and then develop business and marketing plans to sell them.

Families and communities across the Mid South face changes such as unemployment, access to quality education and gender wage disparities. At HOPE, and through the work of the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, we are implementing programs and leading policy change to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve.

This experience has opened my mind to think more globally about the issues that face Jackson and our entire region. It has also made me even more proud of the work that I do with our members every day.