The focus of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan is to make sure that the youth it serves will be “career, startup, and homeowner ready.” Its programs help young people identify their passions and interests, build skills around those interests, and set them on a related career path. And the organization has introduced its youth to insurance and risk management, showing how these fields are essential and can lead to fulfilling career opportunities.
The mission of the NAAIA Foundation is to strengthen communities through scholarship, leadership development, and business ownership; it seeks to help African Americans achieve economic parity and equity, especially in the insurance and financial services industries.
As the NAAIA Foundation sought organizations across the nation to support, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan was an obvious choice to become the first recipient of the NAAIA Foundation Game Changer Award, given out during the foundation’s Inaugural Fundraiser in Atlanta on March 30.
“This recognition is awarded to an individual or organization demonstrating an ongoing commitment to empowering, educating and supporting the African American community in the areas of small business development, leadership, and community development services that uplift neighborhood residents,” said Alisa Joseph, Business Consultant for the NAAIA Foundation.
Alise Dixon, Chief Program Officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, said the gift from the NAAIA Foundation will help her organization in important ways.
“It’s going to allow us to continue to offer things like our risk management industry club, which means we are exposing this career field to even more youth. And then it’s also going to give us an opportunity to start to look down the road at ‘How do we credential what we’re doing? How do we start to get backing to say this is a program that we would recommend any young person interested in risk management to go through, as it gives them a leg up when they’re considering going into this career field?’”
As part of its work to introduce youth to the insurance and risk management industries, it held a “Shark Tank”-style competition in 2021 where youths put their skills to the test by creating their own insurance agencies and pitching them to a panel of experts. A new edition of this competition will take place this month, Dixon said.
Before the NAAIA Foundation was created, members of the local NAAIA chapter would volunteer with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan by contributing to lessons and working with youths.
“NAAIA has provided so many of these professionals each week to come in, to connect with our youth, and even serve as coaches as these young people prepare for their Shark Tank Pitch Competition,” Dixon said.
The NAAIA Foundation presented the $2,500 award during the March 30 Inaugural Fundraiser and Stacy Blackmon, National Vice President, Metro Services for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, accepted it on behalf of the Southeastern Michigan organization.
“We are excited at Boys & Girls Clubs of America to really plug in and figure out how we can partner more, because more kids need to have that experience and need to be connected and in proximity to leaders like you and organizations like yours,” Blackmon said to attendees during the Inaugural Fundraiser.
Ken Branch, CEO and Chair of the NAAIA Foundation, recognized the work of the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, President & CEO Shawn Wilson, and Chair Jennifer Demello-Johnson on March 30 in Atlanta.
“We are excited to find organizations just like this group that are doing great things in the community to help people move into [the insurance] space,” Branch said during the Inaugural Fundraiser.
Dixon said there are a few ways, including the Shark Tank competitions, to get youth interested in insurance and risk management.
“One of the easiest ways we get them in…has been to give kids a ‘WIIF ‘em:’ What’s in It for Them? And help them understand that risk management, the protection of your assets, of your body, of what’s yours, is something everybody needs,” she said.
Dixon, who has spent 16 years working for Boys & Girls Clubs in Texas, Ohio, and now Southeastern Michigan, said it has been exciting to see how their youth have grown and how the organization’s programs can continue to expand.
“I know with partners like [the NAAIA Foundation] at the table, and our passion to continue to get to the point where our programs are credentialed, to get to the point where we have different avenues when we talk about risk management, that really excites me because this means we’re going to serve even more youth,” Dixon said. “More importantly, we’re going to put more youth—especially those that are black and brown—into a career path that many have never even been exposed to, and I think that’s the most exciting part.”