Detroit Attracts Tech Entrepreneurs

David Worley Fannie Mae Detroit

In a few years, it’s possible that the streets of Detroit could be home to a bustling tech industry.

While Detroit has gained a reputation as a run-down slum where crime and unemployment are rampant, it seems like a revival of the Motor City could be coming soon.  Earlier this year, entrepreneurs, corporations and people working in government and economic development gathered to talk about the future of the city at the Detroit Policy Conference.  And as of late, entrepreneurship has played a large role in these discussions.  From urban farming to small business to high-tech startups, entrepreneurs have played a key role in the revitalization of Detroit.

Especially for a tech entrepreneur, there are quite a few advantages that can make starting up a company in Detroit a lot easier than in other tech hot spots that go beyond low rent.  Talent in Detroit has been re-tooling to fit tech jobs.  This isn’t surprising, since Metro Detroit has one of the highest populations of STEM grads and jobs in the US due to the area’s history with auto manufacturing.  There’s also a movement now to help more and more Detroiters to get into programming.  New organizations have been springing up that help Detroiters learn to code, including the tech training institute Grand Circus, Sisters Code, Girl Develop It Detroit and Apprend.

Accelerators in Detroit have been supporting tech startups.  The city has a handful of great technology programs that help teach entrepreneurs to get off the ground running.  In Downtown Detroit, Bizdom’s accelerator helps entrepreneurs get seed funding and support.  This accelerator is backed by billionaire Dan Gilbert, who founded and grew Quicken Loans to become of the largest online mortgage lenders in the US.  Recently, startup Techstars launched a mobility program in Detroit headed by venture capitalist Ted Serbinski.  With the success of Techstars and the mentorship network tapping into Detroit to help mobility startups, Detroiters are hoping to see more entrepreneurs playing off the region’s strengths.

Detroit is getting a high-speed fiber upgrade as well.  Billionaire Dan Gilbert is also backing a new tech startup in Detroit called Rocket Fiber, which is working on hooking up businesses in Downtown Detroit to gigabit Internet speeds.  It was started by a team of local entrepreneurs who decided to create their own Fiber after they learned that Google Fiber wasn’t planning on a stop in Detroit.  Fiber services are estimated to hook up Detroit’s downtown residences and businesses to 1 gig speeds later this year, helping to bring forward faster Internet to help get even more new tech innovations going.  Under the leadership of Detroit’s Mayor Mike Duggan, even more new programs have been rolling out to help entrepreneurs.

Mitt Romney Boxing Match

While Mitt Romney might not have any intention to run in the 2016 Presidential Election, he’ll nonetheless be fighting soon.  This time, however, he might come out of it with a black eye.  The former Republican Presidential candidate is planning to box Evander Holyfield, the former heavyweight champion.  This bout is scheduled for May, and the two will be getting into the ring in an effort to raise money for charity.

David Worley Fannie Mae Boxing

Come May, this photoshopped fantasy could become a reality.

News of the fight first came from the Salt Lake City Tribune, and in an interview Romney said that it will most likely be a very short fight, or else he’ll be knocked unconscious.  Those who are expecting something out of the “Rocky” movies will probably be disappointed, as it’s probably not going to be much more than the two men getting into the ring to spar around for a little while.  Romney thought that it would ultimately be much better entertainment than just having dinner and listening to speakers, and he’s probably right.  That being said, it would probably be more entertaining if it was a full-on fight, as opposed to some quick sparring.  But the main purpose of the event is to raise money for charity, not to put a former Presidential candidate and Massachusetts Governor in the hospital.

The match is scheduled for May 15, as part of a several-bout evening in Salt Lake City to raise money for Charity Vision.  Last year, the Romney family traveled with the group to Peru, and Romney recently returned from a trip to India with them.  Charity Vision donates medical equipment to doctors and facilities in poverty-stricken areas around the world to help aid with eye surgeries.  One of Romney’s songs has described the evening as a “black-tie event”, and that the fundraiser will be patterned after a 1920s-style party.

Open A New Tab For Charity

workstation-david worley fannie maeEvery day people spend time on the internet opening new tab after tab. Instead of just a blank page initiating, Alex Groth and Kevin Jennison found a way to make this previously useless page a tool for charities. Currently found as applications for both Firefox and Chrome, this idea automatically donates money to charity every time a new tab is opened. Each page generates fractions of cents, but that amount adds up considering how often people open new tabs throughout the day. Those blank pages everyone is used to seeing now direct to information about charities. A key component to the charities’ earning potential through this method have to do with advertising. Alongside the information that appears on the blank pages, ads appear as well.

Tab for a Cause is the name of the app created by Jennison and Groth, who are both employed at a startup in Silicon Valley. Anytime someone views the ads in the previously blank new tab, Tab for a Cause receives money to be sent to a charity of choice. Clicking on the ad is unnecessary, which makes the user experience even simpler.

The idea stemmed from a thought that small donations didn’t seem impactful enough. By banding many users together to create an atmosphere where very little is generated very often, suddenly small contributions make a large difference. Tab for a Cause launched in August of 2012 and had more than 3,000 users that raised $4,000 in just two months. Each tab brings in at least a tenth of a cent and users open on average ten tabs a day. One cent per day can certainly make a difference with consistent use.

The main areas of focus are charities for peace, the environment, human rights, education and more. When the app is first set up for an internet browser, one may decide if they want to support all charities or focus on one or a few. For those interested in learning about this charitable internet application, visit the article written by the LA Times here.

Depression Among Younger People

David Worley Fannie Mae DepressionIn recent years, we’ve seen the concept of “adulthood” change drastically.  With the current economic situation, it’s a lot more difficult for younger people to make enough money to raise families, so they’ve started having children much later.  Even with the economy recovering from the 2008 recession, unemployment remains high among young people.  There’s even a phrase now being used for recent college graduates who are in the process of getting their lives together: the “quarter-life crisis”.  According to one study by youth charity the Prince’s Trust, unemployment is actually damaging the well-being of today’s young people.  According to the study, one in three Neets (“not in education, employment or training”) between the ages of 16 and 25 regularly “fall apart” emotionally.

More than a third of the 2,000+ people polled said that they often feel anxious about everyday situations, and avoided meeting new people.  For Neets, this figure rose 56 percent, and almost half of people who were unemployed said that they often or always felt depressed.  43 percent of Neets also said that they often felt isolated.  According to the chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, thousands of young people begin to feel socially isolated without the right support, struggling with day-to-day life and slipping further and further from the jobs market.

For all of the talk about how millennials aren’t promising, it’s important to remember that these people are the future, therefore it’s important that they work to reach their full potential.  The Youth Index 2015 found that young people’s overall happiness and confidence had fallen one point since the year before, but for Neets it had dropped two points.  This figure is also five points lower than in 2013.

Of course, while this study took place in the UK, it still seems that a lot of the issues they’re talking about are relatable on this side of the pond.  Most young Americans who finish from college don’t really know where to go from there.  For the first time in their lives since they learned how to read, these children aren’t students any more.  Beforehand, the next step was always clear: elementary school to junior high school to high school to college.  But after that, it isn’t as clear.  You could choose to stay in school and get a graduate degree.  Or you could choose to start making money and join the work force.  But where do you choose to work?  At this point, it’s filled with decisions, and there’s a lot of pressure to make the right choice, as the wrong decision could have disastrous consequences.  However, even if you have no idea where to go, the worst possible decision you could make would be to do nothing.

AIDS Donations Declining

According to a report from Funders Concerned About AIDS, philanthropic support for HIV/AIDS initiatives in low- and middle-income countries totaled $592 million in 2013, down 8 percent from 2012 and the lowest level of funding since 2007.  The report claims that only 3 percent of total international funding for David Worley Fannie Mae AIDSHIV/AIDS in these countries came from philanthropic sources, led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, Gilead Sciences Inc and the MAC AIDS Fund.  The study also found that funding from US-based philanthropies totaled $431 million in 2013, down 4 percent on a year-over basis, and 88 percent of said funding was directed outside the US.  The top ten funders accounted for 83 percent of all US grantmaking for HIV/AIDS in 2013, with the Gates Foundation alone making up nearly half of the total.  Support from EU-based philanthropies totaled $133 million, down 16 percent from the previous year.  Support from funders based outside of the US and Western and Central Europe totaled $28 million, more or less flat from the previous year.

The report cites various reasons for this overall decline in funding, including the closing of two large funders: the Irene Diamond Fund and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.  In addition, at least five other funders ended up closing or reducing their HIV portfolios, and several major pharmaceutical companies have shifted funding to other areas of research including hepatitis C, chronic diseases and maternal and child health.  The report also showed that the top five target populations of HIV/AIDS funding in 2013 were women, people living with HIV/AIDS, “multiple populations”, orphaned and vulnerable children and youth.  Research projects topped the list in terms of funding purpose, followed by prevention, treatment, advocacy and social services.  FCAA executive director has spoken about the problem that this poses: new scientific development and political commitments could, if fully funded and implemented, move us closer to an end of AIDS.  However, he claims that such progress is being threatened by continued decreases in funding from private philanthropic donors who provide critical support for protecting the basic rights of populations who are currently most at risk for HIV/AIDS.

The Danger of the Selfie

David Worley Fannie Mae selfieThe “selfie”, a self-portrait, typically taken with a camera phone.  In the past few years, you’ve seen it thousands of times on various social media outlets.  There’s even a song on the radio about it.  Not only are these things extremely annoying, but they’re also part of a bigger problem.  I recently came across an article where psychiatrists and mental health workers are linking them to mental health conditions related to narcissism.  One psychologist claims that two out of three of the patients who come to see him with Body Dysmorphic Disorder have a compulsion to repeatedly take and post selfies on social media sites.

A lot of younger people tend to take several selfies over and over again until they feel that they’ve found the “right one”, picking out various details about themselves until they find the “perfect picture”.  Even looking at how younger people choose their “profile pictures” on social media sites is a huge process.  While these acts seem harmless enough on their own, they build up over time until they create great forms of self-consciousness and a false sense of confidence.  The more “likes” these people get on social media sites, the happier they ultimately feel.  And the question arises: is basing your happiness on your profile picture or selfie performance sustainable?

One British teenager went to the extent of trying to commit suicide after he failed to take what he felt was the “perfect selfie”.  He became so obsessed with capturing the perfect shot that he would spend around 10 hours a day taking up to 200 selfies.  As things got more intense, the boy lost nearly 30 pounds, dropped out of school and never left the house for 6 months.  Even though this is a pretty extreme case, it isn’t too far off from what goes on through many of the minds of people as they take pictures of themselves for social media.  Seeing other peoples’ pictures, and the attention that they get, we end up comparing ourselves to others.  In the digital age, narcissism is becoming a big problem.  When people are only showing their highlights online, it’s easy to think that our own lives aren’t as cool.  But we need to realize that they probably have the exact same insecurities, and we have no need to worry about it.

10 Most Charitable Cities

David Worley Fannie Mae CharityAs Ebenezer Scrooge could have told you, being wealthy doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re charitable.  I recently came across an article that speaks about a report released on Monday by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.  According to the report, wealthy individuals have scaled back on the amount of money that they’ve been donating to charities, while the less affluent have increased the amount that they’ve donated.  Between 2006 and 2012, Americans who earned $200,000 or more decreased the share of their income that they gave to charity by 4.6 percent.  On the flip side, those whose annual salaries were less than $100,000 donated 4.5 percent more of their income.  The report calculated these numbers through looking at tax returns.  According to the report, these 10 American cities gave the highest percentage of their money to charities:

10. Virginia Beach, VA.  3.3% of annual income.

9. Charlotte, NC.  3.4% of annual income.

8. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.  3.6% of annual income.

7. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  3.7% of annual income.

6. Jacksonville, Florida.  3.8% of annual income.

5. Nashville, Tennessee.  3.9% of annual income.

4. Atlanta, Georgia.  4% of annual income.

3. Birmingham, Alabama.  4.8% of annual income.

2. Memphis, Tennessee.  5.1% of annual income.

1. Salt Lake City, Utah.  5.4% of annual income.

After I got over the pride swelling in my chest upon seeing that both Charlotte and Dallas were included on this list, I noticed some interesting patterns about these cities.  With the exception of Salt Lake City, all of the cities in this list were southern.  This seems to reaffirm the ancient stereotype of southern hospitality.  Salt Lake City, however, is the center of the Mormon Church, a church known for its missionary and humanitarian work, so it’s hardly surprising that the people who live there would be charitable.  Then I noticed something else that seems to tie all of these cities together: they’re all from very religious parts of the country, and their residents tend to have high church attendance rates.  According to the study, cities with higher church attendance generally donated more of their money to charity than wealthier cities with lower church attendance rates, such as Los Angeles and New York City.  An interesting thing to think about, no doubt.


Funds Pledged to Halt Ebola Outbreak

Recently, the Paul G Allen Family Foundation has announced commitments that total $6.6 million to address the logistical and transport needs for an extensive relief campaign to fight the Ebola outbreak currently  occurring in West Africa.  This funding includes a $3.6 million matching grant to the US Fund for UNICEF that will allow UNICEF to airlift 50,000 protection kits into Liberia to help prevent the virus’ spread among caretakers and family members, as David Worley Fannie Mae Ebolawell as provide nearly 2,400 community health volunteers with the necessary resources to educate their communities about how to effectively prevent infection.  A $3 million partnership with the disaster and humanitarian response organization with Airlink will support regular air deliveries of medical protective gear and pharmaceuticals to West Africa over the next several months.  With these latest commitments, the Allen Foundation has committed over $20 million to fighting the disease, including $9 million to the CDC Foundation and $2.8 million to the American Red Cross.

This Ebola outbreak, even larger than the one in the 1970s, requires dedication and dogged determination to ensure that its spread is halted.  While effectively tackling Ebola can definitely be done, it still requires a global effort to do so, and time is of the essence before the disease spreads to other areas.  In other areas, the Open Society Foundations has awarded $4 million to a project led by Partners in Health co-founder Paul Farmer to open a treatment facility in rural Liberia to help increase survival rates and prevent the virus’ spread.  The fatality rate of Ebola has historically been about 90 percent, but the fatality rate in this specific outbreak is closer to 50.  In partnership with local organizations, Farmer’s project will send teams of health workers to different communities to identify the illness, bring in patients for treatment and track those who might have been exposed to the virus.

While these efforts are commendable, some people believe that they’re too little, too late.  According to the UN, documented contributions from foundations and donor countries totaled $326.7 million as of Monday, far lower than the minimum of $600 million that the UN estimates is needed to halt the virus’ spread, and only $26 million had been committed before August.  The majority of the funds weren’t even pledged until early September.  Yesterday, President Obama unveiled a response plan that includes $263 million in government funding to send additional workers to those areas that have been affected, support the development of Ebola vaccines and deploy three thousand military personnel to the area.  The World Bank Group has also announced grants that total $105 million as part of the $200 million that it announced back in early August.

The Most & Least Educated Cities in America

David Worley Fannie Mae EducationRecently, the financial site WalletHub decided that they were interested in discovering the most and least educated cities in America.  To figure out this information, the site took a look at the 150 largest metro areas in the US, and then ranked them according to 9 different metrics, including percentage of adult residents with high school diplomas and various degrees, the number of doctors per capita, the percentage of workers with computer/engineering/science fields, the quality of public schools and the number of students enrolled in the top 200 universities in the US per capita.

According to the report, skilled workers who also hold degrees usually pump the most money into their local economies over time.  According to the list, the overall “best educated” city was Ann Arbor, but as the city with the highest percentage of “college-experienced adults or associate’s degree holders”, the highest percentage of bachelor’s degree holders and the highest percentage of graduate or professional degree holders.  This is hardly surprising, since Ann Arbor is also a major college town.  Second place goes to Raleigh, NC, with third going to its neighbor, Durham.  Rounding out the top five are Provo, UT and Manchester, NH.  Each of these cities hosts major universities; Raleigh-Durham is close to UNC Chapel Hill, Provo is the home of Brigham Young University and Manchester hosts 8 different colleges.

The least educated city in America, according to the report, is Beaumont, TX, with one of the lowest percentages of bachelor’s degree holders as well as graduate or professional degree holders, and one of the lowest numbers of doctors per capita.  The other four “least educated” towns are Salinas, CA, Rockford, IL, Brownsville, TX and Modesto, CA.  This is hardly surprising, as most of these areas aren’t as wealthy as other parts of the country, and while some of them do host colleges, none of these towns are known as college towns.

Robin Williams

There are certain entertainers who, over the course of their careers, dramatically influence popular culture, and one of those, without a doubt, was Robin Williams.  Yesterday, the actor was found dead in his home of a suspected suicide, at the age of 63.  The preliminary cause of death was asphyxia by hanging.  His body was found seated with a belt wrapped around his neck, and his left wrist was slashed with a pocket knife.  Over the course of his life, Williams had been battling a severe case of depression.

Mork and Mindy

Robin Williams in one of his earlier roles, Mork the alien in “Mork and Mindy”

In the 1970s, some 40 years ago, Robin Williams began his career as a stand-up comedian, performing at nightclubs while studying at the Juilliard School in New York City.  He quickly gained a reputation for his quick wit and improvisational humor.  He first became known to mainstream audiences through the popular sitcom, “Mork & Mindy”, in which he portrayed an alien who came to study Earth.  Later on in his career, Williams became known for his numerous film roles, which varied from comedic to dramatic: therapist Sean Maguire in “Good Will Hunting”, inspirational teacher John Keating in “Dead Poets Society”, the genie in the childrens’ classic “Aladdin”, radio DJ Adrian Cronauer in “Good Morning Vietnam” and Parry in “The Fisher King”.  Over the course of his long career, he won one Academy Award, and was nominated for three.

Many people, even in Hollywood, were shocked to hear about Williams’ death.  In addition to depression, Williams struggled with addiction in the past; he had a cocaine problem in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but quit after his personal friend, John Belushi, died of a drug overdose in 1982.  Back in 2006, Williams checked himself into rehab for alcoholism.  And last month, he checked himself in again, fearing that he might relapse.  No matter what, Williams kept performing, however, and by the time of his death he had three projects in post-production: the voice of a dog in the film “Absolutely Anything”, Teddy Roosevelt in a third “Night at the Museum” and a grandfather in “Merry Friggin Christmas”.  However, one of his most memorable bits is this standup routine about the origin of golf, one of my favorite pastimes: