By Sam Foreman, Klenda Austerman | YPW 2016 Chair
Is it time for a comeback? Is it time for something more? James Chung’s Focus Forward presentation woke many up to the very real and very significant challenges we face as a transitioning Midwestern manufacturing community. Some wonder how we can recover Air Capital glory. It is time to build upon our Air Capital foundation and become the Opportunity Capital.
Becoming the Opportunity Capital is about more than can. You can do anything here. It is about accessibility – creating the shortest distance from Dream to Done. Four interrelated factors drive that distance: resources, availability, awareness, and perception.
This year, 165+ YPW volunteers are making more opportunities more accessible for the young and diverse leaders, creatives, innovators, educators and other professionals that comprise our members and guests. These opportunities enrich the lives of our members and guests and make increase the talent resources in our community. The more attainable more and bigger dreams are here, the more successful we will be at attracting, retaining and developing talent.
YPW volunteers improve community resources through community building efforts and by providing development opportunities. Community improvement efforts include volunteering, transforming neighborhoods through the Enhance CommunitYProject, innovative service through ServeUP, fostering civic engagement, and increasing dialogue for community improvement through community action forums. A range of leadership, personal and professional development opportunities include the Kansas YP Summit, YPW Leadership Academy and additional training thanks to a generous grant from the Kansas Leadership Center. This year we will increase the impact of YP leaders by increasing exposure of the 150+ community leadership roles filled by, and specifically available to YPs.
In 2016, volunteers are making even more opportunities to connect with new friends, business contacts and our community. In 2015, more than 80 events provided members and guests the opportunity to form tens of thousands of professional, social and community connections. These connections create a broad range of possibilities, and provide access to community leaders and unique and high level experiences. This year, we are making even more possibilities available inside our organization and the community by working with 20+ peer organization and providing opportunities to connect with other YPs around the state through programs like the Kansas YP Summit. We are also multiplying available opportunities by engaging with even more members and guests.
Opportunity awareness continues to improve through events and programming as well as social media efforts. In 2015 we began highlighting the diversity dimensions of our talented membership as we work to promote an accurately inclusive definition of who is a professional. This year we are increasing awareness of opportunities in our community by building greater connections with health care, creative, education and small business and entrepreneurial professionals.
Every connection we have with new friends and colleagues creates an opportunity to change the perception of what is possible in Wichita. In 2016 volunteers are working to change perceptions by promoting community pride and showcasing the Wichita area arts community through a t-shirt design contest. All of the profits from the #ILoveWichita community pride t-shirt design contest will be split between a nonprofit partner and the winning artist.
One hundred years ago, the Legends of Wichita built Cessna and Stearman dreams, rocketing Wichita from cowtown to rivets and steel to world leader in advanced manufacturing. And each major innovation and success along the way has been built by creating opportunities through jobs, products and services created by Wichita dreamers. Community-wide efforts make the distance from Dream to Done shorter every day, but there is still a lot of work left to be done. The Opportunity Capital is rising to the challenge. Will you?
You are the most important person in creating someone’s opportunity. Please consider connecting yourself or someone else to the following:
- Development: Leadership, personal and professional development
- Promote community pride
- Raise awareness about the diversity of professionals in our community
- Community Building through volunteering
- Community Building through civic engagement and community action
- Create connections and awareness at events
- Engage with our peer organizations
- Create opportunities with us as a YPW member and volunteer
- Attend the Kansas YP Summit April 21 and 22. Mark it on your calendar and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information.