EDITOR'S NOTE: This content was published courtesy of the North End Improvement Collaborative.
MANSFIELD -- Edward Akinyemi will take the ABCD model he learned at NECIC with him into his future endeavors.
The asset-based Community Development model, developed by John McKnight, looks to build on a community's assets instead of its deficits.
“At first, I thought yeah, OK, whatever, (of the model),” he said with a chuckle. “But I really, really see just how incredibly important it is and how society can benefit so much from such a model.
"In fact, I think if we use government policy that was created from that framework of how we can empower the people to basically run their own lives and we kind of provide a capacity -- a space there or a park here -- (it could change people’s lives).”
Edward started his career with NECIC in November 2017 as an Americorps VISTA. He worked with Temp2Hire (NECIC’s for profit arm) in workforce development and authored a proposal for a program called The Employer Resource Network (ERN).
“Nothing really came of it, but we tried. We tried really hard,” he said. “It was basically a program in which employers would group together and pool some money together to hire a person who would basically help their employees with stuff like housing or if they needed utility assistance or stuff like that.”
After his year of being a VISTA, Edward was hired full-time by NECIC to help write grants and then he eventually became a business counselor as the agency moved toward entrepreneurial business development.
“I basically wrote the curriculum for the micro business development program,” he said. “Then eventually I started teaching the program and I also then became a Certified Business Advisor where I helped small businesses, supported them and tried to connect them to resources, business planning and stuff like that.”
In addition to business development, Edward said he is most proud of his work on the State of the African American in Richland County report that was released in January 2020 by NECIC to statistically show how black people live in the county.
He said he also has a deeper knowledge of how government works.
“I just think it’s funny how everybody loves to criticize the government, but so few people actually know how it works just on a kind of day-to-day level,” he said.
After submitting his resignation in March 2021, Edward plans to continue freelance writing while also pursuing a real estate business with his girlfriend.
“Another big thing that I’m in the process of doing is more social advocacy work,” he said.
He recently just launched a website advocating for financial literacy being taught in every high school. Go to www.financialliteracymovement.com for more information.