We all win when women win

By Dexter Hall

As we approach Mother’s Day, my mother Mrs. Mildred Y. Hall has weighed heavy on my heart. I lost my mother on Sept. 3, 2019, and not a day has gone by that something has not reminded me of her.

Mildred Y. Hall and her son, Dexter Hall

My mother was a fiercely independent woman who raised five kids and worked her entire life until her health failed. As a kid I knew she worked a lot and sometimes held two jobs. Because of her job(s) she wasn’t always able to make it to my school events. While it was disappointing, as an adult doing financial security work in our community, I have an even better understanding of “WHY.”

The pandemic has been a force to be reckoned with across numerous fronts. This beast has shined light on many disparities in our community, including those impacting women, as it did my mother.

I was deeply troubled when the January unemployment numbers showed 346,000 members of our American community had filed for unemployment. I became more troubled and saddened when I learned 80% or 246,000 of those who had filed were women. February-November 2020 statistics show 5.3 million women have lost their jobs compared to 4.6 million men. 

These numbers alone are startling by themselves but are compounded by gender/ethnicity pay gaps. 

According to a study by J.P. Morgan Chase on Racial Gaps in Financial Outcomes, “Black women (like my mother) face the greatest gap in take-home income and liquid assets compared to White men, but racial gaps are larger among men than women.”

Women of color and especially Black women have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic.

Working women have now lost more than three decades of labor force gains in less than a year, as reported in the new issue of Fortune. The ongoing employment crisis, which is closely aligned with a widespread caregiving crisis, has especially hurt the women of color who disproportionately work in restaurants, retail, education, health care, and other “essential” industries. These workers, who are often paid very low wages, rarely have the option of working remotely and trying to schedule their paid work around remote learning and other childcare responsibilities.

My mother would say she has known this to be true long before a pandemic.

Having less costs more – especially for those trying to invest in their own education. Black graduates with bachelor’s and associate’s degrees carry 13% and 26% more student debt than their White peers. They also get paid less, earning 27% and 14% less for the same degrees.

Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of Chase Consumer Banking at JPMorgan Chase, says we must move beyond the “ingrained perception that talking about money and race is taboo, and that financial hardship results simply from bad personal decisions. . . . It also requires moving beyond a culture with the prevailing ideology that success comes simply from individual responsibility.”

While my mother was not the CEO of a bank, she certainly managed what she had while working two jobs and raising a family like she was the leader of one. I salute my mother, Mrs. Mildred Y. Hall and the fight she instilled in me to fight for our community and ensure an inclusive economy for all.

When women win, we all win! Happy Mother’s Day.

Prosper Waco welcomes you to join us in the fight for an inclusive economy for women and everyone. Please contact me for opportunities to assist at Dexter@prosperwaco.org.

Dexter Hall is chief of staff and senior content specialist for financial security with Prosper Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

Caritas receives grant to provide nourishing food

Again in 2021, the Beaumont Foundation of America has granted Caritas of Waco $50,000 to purchase fresh produce and other nutritional food items for clients needing emergency food assistance. The grant has been given to Caritas every year since 2006 and has supported efforts of the organization to provide healthier food items to people in need.   

“Nourishing food is essential for families to function optimally,” said Alicia Jallah, Caritas co-executive director. “Caritas is committed to offering the highest level of nutritional food to the thousands of individuals that are struggling with food insecurity in our community. Beaumont Foundation is a strategic partner in the fight against hunger in our community. They continue to provide us with the necessary funds to purchase healthy food options for our pantry.”

In 2020 the food pantry distributed over 5.2 million pounds of food.

Caritas of Waco is a nonprofit that serves McLennan County and the surrounding area by providing individuals and families with urgent support and long-term solutions to poverty. In 2020, Caritas served over 40,680 families with emergency food assistance. For more information on Caritas of Waco or how you can support its community efforts, please visit www.caritas-waco.org or call 254-753-4593. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

Celebrate Community College Month with MCC

By Madison Schick 

The value of a college degree or workforce certificate has become nearly indisputable; its critical function within the national and local economy is further secured by the role of college degrees in society. 

College degrees enable graduates to achieve a status that may allude others, and this points to an innate worth in higher education. McLennan Community College recognizes Community College Month and its goals throughout the month of April to advocate and support community colleges and their current and prospective students nationwide. MCC invites all to join in the celebration of equitable education in Waco. 

In 2016 nearly one-third of community college attendees were first-generation college students, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The American Association of Community Colleges reports for the same year, “two out of every three students at community colleges work[ed] while enrolled, with 20.6% of mostly full-time students working full-time jobs.”  

In addition to demographic diversity, community colleges serve various populations of students, each with differing goals. MCC serves well over 1,000 high school students each year through Dual Credit courses – permitting students to receive college credit while keeping their academic and career goals forefront. Half of McLennan County high school valedictorians and salutatorians in 2020 graduated with an associate’s degree from MCC. 

A recent Inside Higher Ed article examined results from a survey produced by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. Over half of people earning bachelor’s degrees between 2008 and 2017 were previously enrolled at a community college, and one-quarter had received an associate’s degree prior to their bachelor’s degree. 

Community colleges will continue to differ from four-year schools, partly due to the goals of the students they serve. Community colleges surpass the ability of four-year schools in supplying the local and national workforce with well-educated, certified, and trained workers. They do this in a shorter time frame while accommodating students’ availability for attending classes. 

Community colleges use their multipurpose role within the economy, society, and higher education to meet the needs of students with diverse goals and backgrounds. 

“You can go anywhere from here,” said MCC President Johnette McKown. “If you want to eventually graduate from Baylor, Texas Tech, Tarleton, Texas A&M, or anywhere, start here. If you want to be a health professional, first responder, or professional in any other field, start here.” 

Madison Schick is social media and communications specialist at McLennan Community
College. A literature enthusiast and graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Madison studied environmental science, English, and history, and still loves all things related to reading and writing.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.