PEOPLE OF ALL COLORS SUCCEED WANTS TO CLOSE THE GAP BETWEEN INJUSTICE AND EQUALITY
Sep 08, 2021
As a small town kid, Jamie was fortunate to first showcase his skills by earning a football scholarship at Missouri Western State University when he was a teenager. Studying business led him into the financial industry, where Grayson found great passion for helping people from all walks in life as well as the small business community.
Though Grayson had many successes throughout his career, he also found opportunities where the corporate experience could be improved through courageous conversations for change. As a result, Grayson began a student-focused, K-12 program to help create a pipeline for future talent. By teaching the necessary skills needed to navigate the corporate landscape, he realized working with youth was an opportunity to help bridge those gaps early in their development years to better prepare and position them for success for life after high school and college.
So in 2019, he founded the non-profit organization People of All Colors Succeed (POAC).
“People of all colors, backgrounds, nationalities, sexual orientations and genders should be able to go to any environment with the goal of finding success and support equally,” said Grayson, who serves as POAC’s Executive Director. “The name POAC was created with that vision in mind.”
POAC’s mission is to close the gap between injustice and equality for all people with the goal of sparking courageous conversations for change.
“I was thinking, ‘How can I change the landscape of how people work and behave?’” said Grayson. “And I thought, well, why not start with our youth?”
Through a recently launched Real World Learning initiative in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation — and through support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and the Kansas City Credit Union — POAC brings in-class training, workshops and mentorship programs to area schools. The goal is to partner with local organizations and businesses to provide internship opportunities, on-the-job training and skill development tools to help enhance students’ Market Value Assets for higher paying jobs in their future. Today POAC is partnered with six area school districts, including Park Hill, North Kansas City, Kearney and St. Joseph, as well as De La Salle Education Center and Vita Nuova Charter School, both in Kansas City.
“We started with K-12 to teach kids the importance of emotional intelligence, unconscious bias training, things like that,” said Grayson. “I always say words matter, and so does knowing what they mean. We give kids the vernacular early so they understand them as they go through life and so that when they enter the corporate world, it’s not brand new.”
The Real World Learning program runs the length of the school year (August through May). It provides information to students on job opportunities and potential career pathways to better enable them to succeed professionally. Grayson says the program has two pathways.
“We first focus on unconscious bias, teaching students the different ways that bias comes into play and how to connect through things that they have in common versus differences,” he explained. The second approach is Real World Learning, focusing on six major units: soft skills, business etiquette, job-seeking skills, financial health and wellness life skills, industry exposure, and program expectations surrounding POAC. All are vital when growing a career.
“Hard skills get you in the door; soft skills keep you there,” said Grayson. “Networking can connect you with someone who may have a different title than you, or someone who looks like you. All of those skills that we teach, those are going to keep you in the door.”
Grayson wants to grow POAC’s presence in more area schools. The organization will soon sponsor a charity golf tournament at Smithville’s Paradise Pointe Golf Complex on October 8 at 9am (7:30am registration). They’re inviting businesses and organizations to get involved as volunteers, sponsors, partnering organizations and donors. The proceeds will help expand the Real-World Learning program, ultimately bringing workplace education to underserved school districts and businesses throughout the area.
“Our golf tournament for Real-World Learning brings exposure to what we’re doing, and it allows people to rally behind an inclusive front for positive change,” Grayson said. “The support we receive from events like this helps us provide educational opportunities for more districts and it brings people of all backgrounds together to make a difference.”
For more information on getting involved with POAC or sponsoring, contact Jamie Grayson at email@example.com.