Coffee with a Purpose began almost three years ago to give Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) youth a platform to share their thoughts and ideas on various topics important to them. The event has always been held virtually via Zoom. That all changed on February 16 when six JMG panelists from Bridge Academy of Southwest Michigan sat together, in person, along with two co-moderators, to have an impactful discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). While the youth were in person, the audience was still virtual, to allow the youth to feel comfortable speaking on such a sensitive topic.
This was Part 1 of a 3- Part series, Coffee with a Purpose - Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and YOUth giving youth an opportunity to discuss how it directly affects our youth today and how it is shaping their hopes for the future. The conversation was co-moderated by Terri Albers, Population Health Specialist at Corewell Health (formerly Spectrum Health), and Julie Earle, Bridge Academy of Southwest Michigan (BASWM) Student Success Manager for Kinexus Group. Julie and Terri led the discussion, listening and encouraging the youth panelists, Za'Indya Street, Ian Watson, Jasmine Harris-Branscumb, Owen Hamlett, Zakari (Zack) Morris, Jaylen Banister, and Brooke Triplett, to share their stories, ideas, and experiences.
The audience was able to gain insight from the panelists' experiences as they highlighted the significant differences attending BASWM and being a part of the JMG program. One panelist, Brooke, expressed, "Before I came to the BASWM, I was attending virtual schooling during the pandemic, so I didn't receive the support I needed. But here, you get all the support you need, not just academically but emotionally as well." Jasmine, who felt neglected in her previous experience, shared how JMG gave her job experience and helped set up a path for her dream to work in gynecology. Her goal is to become a gynecologist, specializing in helping women of color, by creating an open dialogue about gynecology and women's health.
It's crucial to continue the conversation on DEI and work towards creating a more inclusive society so that every young person can achieve a future beyond imagination. If you weren't able to attend this powerful discussion, watch the full recording linked here.