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GW Takes Part in Innovative Effort to Create Jobs

Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray takes questions at the recent jobs forum at GW.

Dean Doug Guthrie, two School of Business professors and seven other experts and scholars came together last week to present innovative projects – from an online legal clinic to assist ex-offenders to a mentoring program for high school students to a financial literacy program aimed at improving employment prospects in the District of Columbia.  Each project will be launched within 100 days and will be tracked for its job-creation success.  The presentation culminated nine months of work.

The forum known as Major Projects Lab Ward 8, or Mpl[W8], is part of The George Washington University’s ongoing commitment to the District.  It dovetails with Guthrie’s push for GWSB to show how business can solve community and global problems.

“As dean of a business school, I have dreamed for the last year of a way to contribute to economic discussions above and beyond putting students into the economy – which is important and what we do – to become a thought leader and to be embedded in the community,” Guthrie said.

The forum focused on D.C.’s Ward 8, which includes the Anacostia neighborhood.  Ward 8 has 25 percent unemployment, the highest rate in the city.  D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray told the audience that it is not enough to create jobs.  He said workers also need the skills required for those jobs.

In her presentation, Liesl Riddle, GWSB’s associate dean for MBA programs, unveiled a mentoring program.  The “2+2” initiative creates teams, each consisting of two high school students and two mentors.  The mentors are business executives and GW students.

“The program consists of monthly meetings, some of which take place on the GW campus and some at Anacostia High School,” Riddle explained. “They start with a workshop on topics such as leadership, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, then the rest of the meeting is devoted to a professional development plan for each student.”

Riddle said the goal is to get the students “job ready.”  Internship opportunities will be available to 2+2 students.

The program is one of two student-focused initiatives that will be undertaken by the School of Business.  Scheherazade Rehman, director of the European Union Research Center at GWSB, described a separate effort aimed at boosting the global financial literacy of ninth and 10th-grade students in D.C. public schools, with an intensive effort focused on Ward 8.

“Our youth are not living in our parents’ world.  The world has changed,” said Rehman, a professor of international business. “It’s social media based, it’s viral, it’s global.

“Our youth have to be prepared to compete on everything today,” she added.

Rehman said the program, based on one that has been successful in New York and New Jersey, will take teams of five or six students from each school.

“We’re going to have workshops to discuss economics, global issues, critical thinking, leadership, solutions to real world issues,” she said. “We’re going to pull Ward 8 schools aside for special training.”

The program includes a competition for small Web-based companies, with students winning prizes ranging from $250 to $1,250.  And Ward 8 teachers will be eligible for a five-day, expenses-paid European study tour to Brussels. “There will be 20 teachers nationally that go.  We anticipate that two or three will be from Anacostia,” Rehman said.

During his presentation, Guthrie called upon the city to pursue direct foreign investment in D.C. In particular, he said Chinese companies are seeking investment opportunities and may be interested in setting up shop in the nation’s capital.

Mpl[W8] is the second of two job-focused efforts by the University and the District of Columbia. In July, GW hosted an employment fair that drew 1,700 job seekers.  Seven universities and three hospitals took part, with 400 jobs on the table.

GW President Steven Knapp said he spoke with Mayor Gray about how such a job fair could be extended to include public utilities and other employers.

Posted by gwsb on September 27, 2011 | Filed under: GWSB News.


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