New AFW Board Member: Paul Bartow
Essay by Paul Bartow
It is a great pleasure to join the board of directors of America’s Future Workforce. There are many reasons why I want to join this board, but none of them are more important than contributing to AFW’s mission of providing economic opportunities to underserved youth and young professionals in the Washington, D.C. metro area. America’s Future Workforce is an outstanding organization that provides networking opportunities, job skills, and mentoring in a highly competitive and very expensive city. I aim to contribute to the existing programs of AFW and to seek new and innovative ways to further the organization’s mission and maximize its impact.
My educational and professional background provided me with an appreciation for the kind of work that AFW does on a daily basis. Having previously worked in the nonprofit sector in D.C. and currently enrolled in a graduate program, I understand the unique struggles that face prospective interns, international students and professionals, and recent graduates.
I arrived in Washington, D.C. as an intern in the summer of 2014 after graduating from college. Most of this city’s internships are unpaid, which restricts the candidate pool due to the high cost of living. AFW’s fellowship stipend is an innovative way of addressing this problem and expanding opportunities to those who would otherwise be unable to obtain professional experience in the DC area. The AFW fellowship generously provides up to $3,000 to help meet the cost of living during the course of the internship. This program is one of the best-kept secrets in Washington, D.C., and I resolve to seek out more philanthropists to contribute to this program, so AFW can provide more opportunities to an expanding pool of applicants.
During my time in DC, I also lived among young professionals from around the world at the International Student House, a DuPont Circle nonprofit. These interactions were life changing, and I became more aware with the unique struggles that foreign students and professionals face upon their arrival. Often, these ambitious individuals find it difficult to pay their expenses, many are working on temporary or part time contracts, and many find employment with nonprofit organizations that will validate their visas difficult to obtain. AFW’s Worldwide Workers program lowers the many barriers they face and is instrumental in ensuring that our businesses train, recruit, and retain talent in an increasingly global economy. This program leverages AFW’s relationships with employers throughout the DC area to make sure its fellows find opportunities commensurate with their interests and experience. I personally know many who could benefit from this program, and I intend to contribute by forging new partnerships with other nonprofits to help expand the Worldwide Workers program.
Third, I strongly support AFW’s E2E program, which serves as a bridge for recent college graduates and graduate students from education to employment. As a recent college graduate and a current graduate student, I am well aware of the unique challenges this demographic faces. The job market is still extremely competitive and personal connections, mentoring, and professional experience are three keys to successfully obtaining employment. Additionally, searching for employment can be daunting because many recent graduates are unaware of opportunities that may match their interests and skill set. America’s Future Workforce is deeply committed to providing all of these services to its E2E fellows. Through its connections with employers and nonprofits, it seeks to fill the knowledge gap between applicants and employers. The E2E fellowship also provides small group counseling, career specific technical training, and post program planning to its participants to ensure their success.
Furthermore, I can create value for the organization in addition to supporting and expanding the existing programs of America’s Future Workforce. I will join the board of directors as someone who will recruit and engage young donors and new volunteers. This will bring new energy and enthusiasm to the organization as well as additional resources to maximize AFW’s impact on the community it serves. I intend to draw on my fundraising experience that includes prospecting research, database management, case study development, and giving programs research. Second, I will bring my professional experience and familiarity with the DC professional community to help advise the organization on strategic decisions. Third, I have event planning experience that will be useful to AFW in many ways, including internal campaigns and events.
AFW also aligns well with my own personal interests and my desire to promote human flourishing broadly speaking. I am committed to increasing economic opportunity through free market solutions, equipping interns, students, recent graduates, and young professionals with the requisite job skills to embark upon a successful career, and fostering a culture of philanthropy that will support such programs. I am eager to develop and grow a network of other civic-minded, high-performing peers and to gain exposure to high-level nonprofit operations, budgeting, event planning, and fundraising. AFW has an important mission, an enthusiastic team, and an expansive network of professional contacts. I am excited about its possibilities for growth and am happy to contribute in any way I can.