Where We Came From
In January of 2013, The Center for the Future of Arizona, in partnership with the Gallup Institute, released the second iteration of its climacteric report “The Arizona We Want 2.0.” This report, which canvassed local nonprofit, business, and political stakeholders, called upon Arizonans to make Arizona the “place-to-be” for young talent. Furthermore, the report provided a number of disturbing statistics, which illustrated just how far we were from achieving that lofty goal. These included:
- Only 11 percent of residents believe Arizona is a “very good” place for young college graduates looking to enter the job market. (The Arizona We Want, 19)
- Almost 30 percent of Arizona’s young people would leave the state if given the opportunity. (The Arizona We Want, 31)
In response, Dr. Lattie Coor (ASU President Emeritus and Chairman/CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona) brought together a group of young leaders, including Courtney Klein and Mauro Whiteman, to outline an action plan to reverse these trends and improve the way Arizona organizations engage, develop, and retain young professionals.
The Manifesto Project, as we were subsequently titled, began with a yearlong market research study to uncover why our state was failing so miserably to retain its young talent. This study, which convened 25 statewide focus groups, polled more than 1000 young professionals on what they viewed as Arizona’s current strengths and weaknesses, and asked what would encourage or discourage them from staying in the state long term. The results of this study, along with feedback from local organizations, convinced the Project team that more than anything else, young professionals want to be engaged and mentored in their chosen fields, but don’t know where to start. Conversely, organizations are looking for ways to better attract and retain young talent, but are unsure how to go about doing so.
What We Do
The Manifesto Project’s Board Apprenticeship Program aims to bring both sides together. The program encourages organizations to reserve a “shadow” position on their Board of Directors, executive committee, or subcommittee for a high potential young professional who has been matched to their organization or identified internally. Individuals selected will receive high quality board and professional development training through the Manifesto Project’s community partners, be assigned a mentor within the host organization, and serve a 1-year, non-voting term where they will gain invaluable high-level strategic experience in their chosen sector. We believe that this experience will give our participants a greater stake in their communities, inspire them to seek future leadership roles, and encourage them to begin and continue their careers in the state of Arizona. Additionally, the program will assist local organizations in their efforts to develop a pipeline of young leaders and help to ensure our state’s future economic, political, and social viability.