Ashley McIver is a Senior Philanthropy Officer at the Communities Foundation of Texas. Ashley has been a member of the Workforce Matters Steering Committee since 2019 and currently serves as Co-Chair.
WFM: Tell us about yourself. What are you up to outside of work?
AM: My husband and I celebrated a decade of marriage. We have two children, Trent (8) and Harper (3). I am from the great natural state of Arkansas, so I have a great appreciation and love for the great outdoors. I am passionate about developing others and I gain energy from other’s presence and perspective. I love to travel and hope to one day see all the national parks. My life goal is to live a life of purpose by being a light in whatever God-given sphere of responsibility that he places me in.
WFM: How have your past experiences informed your approach to workforce development grantmaking?
AM: Well, I can tell you it isn’t linear! Before I was in philanthropy I was in direct services. I have always been in public service roles. I started my career right out of college as a youth director for Mission Waco Mission World in Waco, Texas. That was my first experience as a nonprofit leader and working for a community development organization. I moved to Arkansas to pursue my master’s in public administration and started working as Admission Director for a residential high school and finally moved to Dallas, where I currently reside, and became a program manager for a local nonprofit. I did that for about three years and then decided to start a family. I was a stay-at-home mom for about a year and a half and my son, who was one and a half at the time, and I both decided that we needed more socialization and so we entered the workforce. He went the education route and I went straight to employment.
I truly believe that my work in the community has helped me become a better grantmaker. I got to see firsthand how the system worked for both youth and adults. I got to see the impact of poverty on education and communities as whole. Philanthropy allowed me to move above ground level and to take a more strategic approach to addressing some of the same challenges I was trying to solve for when I was providing arts education to Title 1 schools or when I was going into rural communities in Arkansas to provide students with higher quality educational alternatives. I realized just how interconnected things are and the role of philanthropy can be pivotal if capital and resources are used strategically and equitably.
WFM: Can you tell us about one of your recent grantmaking initiatives? What do you hope to accomplish? What are you learning?
AM: I am really excited about the agencies in our learning portfolio. We aligned our grantmaking strategy with the Texas 60x30 goal, which seeks to have at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 certified or degreed by 2030. CFT hopes to help achieve a slice of that goal for North Texas within the next four to five years. Our goal is to partner with organizations that can help us build ladders of economic opportunity for 40,000 North Texans by increasing the number of young adults who possess a post-secondary degree or credential of value with a focus on African American, Latinx, and economically disadvantaged learners. North Texas has a growing economy full of industry partners, great education institutions, and nonprofits that are ready to serve.
This portfolio excites me because it really takes the work I have been doing around asset building in our economic security portfolio over the last six years and laser focuses on education as an increasing necessity to finding a quality job or to sustaining a family. We strongly believe that two- or four-year colleges and non-degree programs are a worthy investment within our community if we want to be a part of creating a thriving community for all. We know that North Texas has a wealth of industry partners, great educational institutions as well as nonprofits that are ready to serve our growing economy.
Additionally, I am thrilled to be able to work alongside the organizations in this portfolio that will be offering work-based learning in our region – supporting opportunities that place workers on a career pathway to a family-sustaining wage in a growth industry of their choice:
- Generation USA
- Harmony Community Development Corporation
- Per Scholas
- University of Texas at Arlington
The earn + learn model is critical to the future of workforce and we have funded some of our region’s leaders to provide paid work-based learning, apprenticeship, internship, and credentialing programs, as well as critically important wraparound services to assist learners in access and completion. We look forward to learning what both learners and workers in our region need to be successful now and, in the future, and we hope to share those lessons learned with the broader community to help move others interested in supporting our local workforce forward.