Dear Colleagues, Members, Supporters and Friends,

We’re nearing the end of another extraordinary year. The norm was the unexpected - within the organization and in the world around us. One of the only certainties was to keep putting one foot in front of the other, focused on our mission advancing inclusive sustainable development anchored in manufacturing. Despite the zigs and zags in the road, our team persists moving forward, working creatively and collaboratively as we serve our community and advocate for an inclusive, manufacturing-centric approach to community and economic development.

This Giving Season, We Need Your Support! Your donations help us do more to advance the work that transforms lives and creates the conditions to build wealth in our communities, just check out our updates below⬇️💯. Whether its to help young people learn about and navigate the barriers to get and keep the job (Career Pathway Services), or to raise awareness among community members and decision makers on how manufacturing can help drive inclusive and equitable development (Manufacturing Ecosystem Services).

You can help us make that difference! Donate, follow-us on social media and check in on us regularly with the latest in our What's New blog. Thank you and warm Season's Greetings to you and your families!

Erica Swinney Staley

Executive Director


773-278-5418 x20

In this newsletter and on MR's website

Get Involved

Career Pathway Services This year's highlights!

Mfg Ecosystem Services

Resources from the Field Worth a Read - Worth a Listen

Thank You to Those Who Make Us Possible:

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We Need Your Support This Giving Season!

Manufacturing Renaissance works through two program areas. 1) Career Pathways Services works with employers, trains young people in schools and in communities through a diversity of partnerships with other organizations who also serve young people vulnerable to violence, poverty and in need of more access to opportunities.

2) Manufacturing Ecosystem Services works to build diverse coalitions, inform policy and provide technical assistance. This program area includes the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council (regional) and the Federation for a Manufacturing Renaissance (national and international). These efforts are essential to raise awareness, expand similar programs and advance Inclusion and Industry 4.0 -informed programs and policies to maximize our collective impact expanding wealth building opportunities and more inclusive, manufacturing-centric economies.

Photo above: Training participant Ahmad (right) observes a Freedman Seating employee assemble a mass transit seat on his internship. Ahmad now works at Freedman Seating.


We're Hiring!

Roll up your sleeves with us. Let's get to work!

All Job Descriptions Here.


This Year's Highlights!

This year, Manufacturing Renaissance has provided training, work-readiness, work experience and placement services to 71 high school youth and young adults across Chicago's West and South sides through our Manufacturing Connect (MC) and Young Manufacturers Association (YMA) training programs.

  • We improved our program design and resumed in-person training, partnered with a mix of schools and community organizations to provide our services.
  • 69 participants completed a 1-week paid internship.
  • 41 earned a nationally-recognized industry credential.
  • 10 program completers enrolled in college and 10 chose to pursue and were placed in manufacturing employment. Job placement activities ongoing!

In addition to our funders (listed below), special thanks to Academy of Scholastic Achievement, Austin Coming Together, Bethel New Life, Bogan High School, Business and Career Services, Daley College, Goode STEM Academy, Marshall Metro High School, Morton College, Wright College, United Credit Union for your partnership in serving our young people this year!

Students from Morton College's West 40 program visit with YMAer Ahmad, a new Freedman Seating employee, who shares how his YMA training led to his new career!

We're featured in a video by Cook County's Justice Advisory Council showing how our program is part of the violence prevention solution by helping young people like Rodney into a career-track job at a great company like Matot straight from high school!

We participated in the City of Chicago's #MfgDay events with high school counselors and students to learn about manufacturing careers. MR is highlighted in the video from the day.

In October we were excited to host Drew "The MFG" Crowe, nationally-known motivational speaker, who came to visit with some of our YMA members to talk about what it takes to overcome the barriers and succeed in manufacturing.

Hands up if you got a job offer! Most our YMA interns got a job-offer immediately upon completion of their 1-week internship! Thanks to Bethel New Life and United Credit Union for hosting our YMA training cohorts in your facilities!

Manufacturing Connect participants got hands on at Wright College and Daley College during field trips in the Spring.


Building Awareness and Community Around Ownership Opportunities in Manufacturing

In November, Manufacturing Renaissance, Ravinia Capital, League of Black Women and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner co-hosted an inspiring and informational presentation, panel and networking event about the opportunities and challenges in ownership succession in manufacturing. A diverse group of about 80 attendees participated, including entrepreneurs, investors, individuals representing the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council, manufacturers, and the City of Chicago.

Tom Goldblatt of Ravinia Capital emceed the event. Dan Swinney, Founder of Manufacturing Renaissance, presented on the history and origins of the ideas that developed this initiative that would proactively identify and assist privately-owned manufacturing companies to help keep their companies owned locally in our communities. The presentation was followed by distinguished panelists who shared their expertise on different dimensions on the challenges and opportunities reflecting this work. We are fundraising to get this timely, much needed initiative off the ground. Contact David Robinson, 773-278-5418 x19, if you can support this effort. Read more here.

Photo: Event organizers and panelists. Left to right, Sandra Finley, Ken Gaebler, Tom Goldblatt, Shari Giddens, David Robinson, Teresa Cordova and DeJuan Lever.

Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council (CMRC)


Since January, the MR team has been working with our CMRC Co-Chairs, Jim Piper of Matot, and Michael Moriarty of the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation to develop and lead on an agenda to promote manufacturing as a tool for social inclusion and community development. Formed in 2005, the CMRC is a regional, multi-stakeholder coalition of members including employers, community, faith based and labor organizations, social service, economic and workforce development agency leaders who join us in this work. Learn more here.

Progress in 2023:

  • 22 CMRC members hosted 130 inclusive manufacturing ecosystem-building activities or events
  • 11 CMRC members have hosted 38 manufacturing workforce activities
  • CMRC members have organized or participated in 10 meetings with decision makers about the importance of manufacturing and related training and education programs in our region.

Joining the CMRC is a great way to get more involved in our work. If you see yourself, your organization or company as part of building our economy and communities through an inclusive manufacturing ecosystem in the Chicagoland area, then join our network! Contact David Robinson, 773-278-5418 x19, to learn more about the CMRC or complete our membership form and we'll be in touch!

CMRC Leaders organized a forum for Mayoral candidates in Chicago in February to discuss a new industrial vision for an inclusive and thriving industrial sector. A wide range of issues were addressed at the forum, including the need for job training, federal investment in the manufacturing sector, ownership succession, and the importance of building a green economy. Read more here.

CMRC leaders met with key elected officials and institution leaders this year to advocate and educate on how manufacturing could be a strategic vehicle for community wealth building and inclusive economic development. We met with Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership George Wright and senior staff from Chicago Public Schools.

MR is proud to part of the first cohort of grantees under the City of Chicago's Community Wealth Building Ecosystem initiative. MR's Erica Staley was a panelist at the NeighborWorks America Training Institute onsite at City Colleges of Chicago-Richard J Daley College to discuss Chicago’s Community Wealth Building Initiative and some of the great work within it. City of ChicagoG. Sequane LawrenceDavid Girzadas, Ja'Net Defell, Renee HatcherThe DemocracyCollaborative  present! 

Building the New Federation for a Manufacturing Renaissance!

The Federation continues to make progress! We developed our organizational infrastructure including establishing our web site (www.fed4mr.org), a newsletter, an Executive Committee that meets weekly as well as a broader Organizing Committee that meets every two weeks. Together, we are advocates for what we call Inclusion & Industry 4.0—an industrial policy framework that ensures that the growth of manufacturing will be a tide that lifts all boats including women, people of color, and workers. We are organizing to influence industrial policy from the White House to Chicago’s West Side and supporting local projects that reflect the power of this policy. We are committed to development that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable and restorative. Membership is open to individuals as well as organizations. Contact Dan Swinney, 773-278-5418 x14, for more information. Learn more about the Federation! Join us!


Worth a Read - Worth a Listen

The transition to electric school buses (ESBs) will transform communities and we must ensure that a just transition for school bus workers also occurs. To better understand gaps in workforce development for ESB operators and maintenance technicians, CALSTART, Michigan Clean Cities, Manufacturing Renaissance, and WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative convened an Industry Electric School Bus Working Group that met in a series of meetings in 2022/23. This article highlights learnings from the working group to help manufacturers, school bus operators, as well as curriculum providers with their reskilling efforts. Read more here

The Partnership CEO, George Wright, is hosting a radio show at 8 am on WVON AM radio on Saturday mornings called “The Partnership with George Wright.“ On 11/18/23, MR's David Robinson was George's host to talk about the importance of manufacturing as a driver for inclusive development. Listen in here!


Promoting from Within! Congrats to Two of MR's Own!

Mieka Matthews has been with MR for 8 years! Starting as a Program Coordinator, Mieka is on her way up with her second promotion! Now Mieka serves as our Program Manager supervising the Program Coordinator team and ensuring our youth participants have the best possible experience training with MR.

Rose Mojica started her tenure at MR in January 2023 as our Bookkeeper and Office Manager. She has already gone above and beyond in her role and has recently been promoted to Finance Operations Manager as she demonstrates increasing leadership and diligence in managing MR's finance dept.

Thank You to MR's Latest Funders and Collaborators!

Rest In Power Dr. Alice Palmer

We celebrate the life of Dr. Alice Palmer. Alice was a long-time advisor and leader in the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council network. She was a champion for our work training young people for careers in manufacturing and believed in its importance as a driver for development.

Mother to MR's David Robinson, Alice was also an activist, author, educator and politician whose state Senate seat served as the launching pad for the political career of Barack Obama. Read obituary here.

If you would like to learn more about how you can get involved, click here.
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