We met with Mayor Bloomberg’s office this month at City Hall. They described the massive volunteer surplus the city is experiencing. 100,000 New Yorkers have responded to a combination of a brutal recession and Obama’s call to service to create what is likely the largest human capital investment opportunity in the city’s history.
They are seeking advice on how to engage this tsunami of interest in service. In a city that has few funds to spare, engaging a football stadium full of people in meaningful service is…well…more than an overwhelming challenge.
This pool of talent represents a tremendous asset in human capital. There must be good ways to leverage these people to help us dig ourselves out of the recession and help those most in need.
We offered a few of ideas:
For every New Yorker receiving some form of welfare, appoint them a personal board of directors. Many of us who grew in upper middle class homes have de facto personal boards of directors but for others they need access to people who can serve as mentors and connect them to the working world. Get them a lawyer (advocate in the legal system), marketing manager (coach on how to market themselves), HR manager (career coach), IT manager (tech mentor) and accountant (financial advisor) who can help them navigate their lives in this challenging time. Ask each member of their board to meet with them one-on-one and then occasionally as a team.Create a crowdsourcing website for the city. Have each department list 20 challenges they face that prevent them from achieving their goals. Invite all New Yorkers to post their ideas for how to address the solutions. Host an event to celebrate the best ideas and put them into action. This would enable all New Yorkers to serve without having to manage them directly.
Challenge corporations to use the skills and talents of their employees to support the coming wave of nonprofit mergers that we are going to experience due to the recession. Create a city office to coordinate accountants, HR professionals, lawyers, marketing professionals, management consultants and others who are needed to help integrate existing agencies.