This fall and winter, Mizzen by Mott will roll out three new playlists curated for the afterschool field by Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. In the Q&A that follows, Lt. Gov. Gilchrist talks about each playlist and shares why he thinks it’s so important to empower young people with learning experiences that foster their well-being, hone their talents, and fuel their creativity and leadership. You’ll also hear how his own experiences in afterschool set him on a path to engineering and public service.
Q: What interested you about curating playlists in Mizzen for the afterschool field?
I’m proud to be able to participate in the Mizzen platform. I think it’s an incredible platform in terms of service and content. These times are so critical because learning happens all the time — all day, every day, in school and out of school. So, for there to be high-quality, rigorous, structured and fun content that’s available to afterschool providers and young people ensures that out-of-school time can be as productive as possible. In the state of Michigan, we want to be sure that this kind of content is available to every young person, regardless of where they are.
Q: Your first playlist focuses on supporting young people’s social and emotional well-being, learning about civil rights and getting involved in the democratic process. Why did you pick these topics at this moment in time?
We all have navigated so much over the last two years, and that’s particularly true of our young people. I think it’s important to ground ourselves in how we can manage our social and emotional well-being because ultimately that will determine how we show up in the world. Giving young people the tools, strategies and resources to be able to put their best foot forward, no matter the situation, is critical to their path to success. So, I wanted to start there and then talk about things that are empowering. We all have a role to play in the present and future of our societies. That’s why learning about the democratic process is so important.
Q: Your second playlist focuses on youth entrepreneurship education. What excites you about sharing opportunities for young people to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset?
I think it’s a way to direct creativity. Entrepreneurship is about having an idea, or seeing an idea, and then finding a way to bring it to the world so that others can experience it. I am excited about this playlist because it’s an opportunity to share that experience with young people, to let them know that it’s a path that’s open to everyone, and that we are here to support them. I’m excited about what that means for the state of Michigan. This is an opportunity to unlock not only economic potential but creativity. Several of those ideas that are inspired by those who participate in this particular playlist are, I think, going to change the state of Michigan and change the world.
Q: Your third playlist focuses on 21st century skills. How have innovation and problem-solving skills been important in your own career?
I benefitted from well-designed, well-supported — by philanthropy and others — out-of-school-time structured activities. I think Mizzen is an important part of that ecosystem today. That is where I was introduced to the field of engineering, which I also ended up studying in college, and where I started my career as a software developer. It’s how I was introduced to gaining those skills that would prepare me for today’s economy. This Mizzen playlist is about laying that foundation for young people for the next iteration of the economy — the economy as we enter into the midst of the 21st century where digital skills and digital literacy will be foundational.
Q: If you could share a message with afterschool educators across the state and country, what would it be?
Deep, unending, infinite gratitude. Thank you so much for your commitment to the success and well-being of young people. Thank you for the creativity that you apply at every opportunity and every moment every, single day to create the conditions for the young people and families whom you serve to be successful and to realize their full potential. It is a labor of love. It is emotional labor. You are seeing 360 degrees of young people. You see them on their best days. You see them on their most challenging days. And you help them navigate that. Those relationships with young people will never leave them. So, thank you for giving of yourself to them. And, I want to make sure that, as a public official, I’m doing everything I can to make sure you’re supported.
Q: What message would you want to share with young people?
Both today and tomorrow belong to you. Your ideas are valid, and they matter, and I want you to feel like you can make anything you want happen. There are people in the world and in your community who will help you find the best way to do that. I want to count myself amongst them. I want you to be your most creative self. I’d encourage you to always try, to always give something a shot — whether it’s a new thing or a thing you tried and failed at before. Give it another chance because that is how you will ultimately be the person who you want to be.
Get started with the Grow & Go: Learn with Lt. Governor Gilchrist: Social & Emotional Learning playlist.