We are now officially underway with our Contractor Mentorship Program; read more about it here. We met with 4 contractors from the African-American community and Dee is now actively working with them in the 1 st stage of our program – DEB/DOT certification.
While it is a bit of a departure for Sphere – from our general mentorship interests, and from the courses we are planning to start soon – we could not stand by and not provide a solution, when there is a clear one in front of us. All of the contractors we have met with told us that they would not have undertaken the certification process without us, and they would not have done it without Dee, who is a trusted member of the African-American community. We are learning that trust has eroded to a point where this project would simply not be possible without Dee. Hopefully, our success with this program will restore trust and provide an opening for much-needed healing for the black community in Asheville, and throughout our nation.
In reality, we are thrilled about becoming part of the solution for economic mobility and development in Asheville for the minority community. Dee shared with us that many years ago she worked at an organization called the Minority Economic Development Group. There, she was responsible for helping businesses of all kinds form, grow and flourish. So she’s got some history in ushering business owners along.
Now our minds turn to funding – several have counseled us about the monies available from the City and the County for economic development initiatives in minority communities. We’re in the process of identifying those now, and will keep you posted. Meanwhile, we have completed our interviews of prospective teachers for the Sphere Spring program.
There were several interesting courses submitted, but in the end, we have decided to do a “soft launch” for three courses. We will announce those courses shortly, but in the meantime, we have been fortunate to team up with Jonah Goldwag and members of his community to brainstorm ideas for Sphere’s expansion in Asheville.
It is really important to me that Lynn and I are not the only ones making decisions for Sphere: We need a community of people with an interest in reforming education to come together to create something magnificent. It is needed more than ever now. With the changing administration, education—including higher education—is sure to come under more scrutiny. As universities throughout the nation continue to suffer, smart solutions are needed. Now is the time, even if it takes some time to bring about a new reality.