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Bringing Voices Together for the Children of Kalamazoo County

Jared Volz

Jared Volz is passionate about helping people get what they need to be successful. His job as Action Network Facilitator for the Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo allows him the hands-on chance to make things happen.

A graduate of Western Michigan University, Volz returned to Kalamazoo from Washington, D.C., in September 2015 where he worked on public policy and criminal justice reform. He is also a veteran of several political campaigns.

Married now for ten years, the Volzs both grew up in Plainwell and were high school sweethearts. He earned his degree from Western Michigan University in Political Science, then went on to earn a degree in Education from Arizona State. His wife studied Freshwater Science, and together they felt there would be plenty of opportunities back in Michigan.

"We had grown up and had the benefit of knowing people still here," said Volz. "The cost of living here is reasonable. Compared to other cities that offer similar amenities, there is definitely more living for less cost in Kalamazoo."

Volz also has many fond memories of activities he grew up with in this area, like Gene the Pumpkin Man and the Air Zoo, and noted he'd like his two young daughters to experience them.

Combining that with the unique career opportunity that works best in a place like Kalamazoo, Volz decided to become a local resident once again. "There is an incredible dedication to education here, and a reputation for innovation."

Kalamazoo's history of innovation in education dates back to its support of taxpayer-funded education in the 1874 Kalamazoo School Case decision. A lot has happened since then, including the gift of the Kalamazoo Promise.

The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo where Volz works brings the community together to increase educational success for people in Kalamazoo County. Part of this is achieved through Action Networks, like Kindergarten Readiness.

Volz's role as Action Network Facilitator for Kindergarten Readiness is to bring together the voices and data from all the different players in the lives of Kalamazoo County children, especially the underserved. This includes school counselors, county health officials, KRESA, teachers, social workers, or volunteers, to name a few.

"We need to hear the different expertise to see what is working and what isn’t," said Volz. "There are a lot of plates spinning at any given time."

The goal of the Kindergarten Readiness Action Network has always been to ensure every child in Kalamazoo County, birth to age five, has the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual foundation to be successful in education. Because children have so many needs, there are many access points for families to navigate. Removing any barriers to making the process seamless is crucial.

For Volz, drawing out ideas and experiences from people in large groups helps them understand their common objectives. That, along with collecting data for continuous improvement and setting goals, are key ingredients to finding solutions.

For the future watch for Volz in local politics as he likes the energy and hopes to be more active locally. Until then Volz said "I feel my family is in a great situation here. We are happy with our childcare and are near family and friends. It’s a good fit."

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