Surveying the Land and Plotting my Next Moves: Development of Human Capital in the Delaware Valley

Ms. Desiree Neal

SOC381: Exploring the Philabundance Community Kitchen

Final Integrative Paper


This paper is about my current vocational leaning towards developing peoples’ economic value producing abilities, an area called development of human capital (DHC), especially in the region of the Delaware Valley. I lay out first a bit of what that field is, how it fits into a biblical worldview, what’s going on, and what we imagine could happen there. In the second half of this essay I lay out why I’m interested in this field, how I can employ my strengths (one of which is learning), to serve DHC, and lastly some next steps of action I plan on taking, including applying to work at Vanguard summer 2016, and focusing my academic efforts 2015-2016 on preparing for that new setting.

Section One: Development of Human Capital in the Delaware Valley

What is human capital (HC)? HC is the collection of habits, knowledge, skills, and connections a group of people possess which can function towards creating economic value. Putting human capital in contrast with human resources (HR), we see that HR focuses on what personnel are available to an organization, human capital focuses on what skills, knowledge, and experience are possessed by a group of people, whether that group of people belong to a region, organization, or country. Development of human capital (DHC) is distinct from education. DHC centers on the growth of a group’s skills, knowledge, and experience which functions towards producing value, while education (in a narrow sense), is instruction between teacher and student to the end of developing some desired quality in the student. Education may be used in the process of DHC. But other factors contribute to DHC as well, including elementary schooling, cultural understandings of child rearing, spiritual realities, laws, and a host of other factors. To state that the human capital of an area is developing is to assert that the people of that area are as a whole growing in their ability to produce economic value, which could mean any of a wide variety of qualities are improving in that people group. HC growth in an area may mean that a greater percentage of the people in that region have the habit of self-advertising than in the past. Self-advertising contributes to the formation of economic value because it is a skill vital in acquiring employment. Some of the places advancement of HC takes place are in schools, on the job, and in other educational programs. Through refining in this area, people acquire the knowledge, skills, and willingness necessary to perform key operations in the economy in order to produce economic value.

We will focus on human capital development in the Delaware Valley (DV). The Delaware Valley is the region surrounding Philadelphia with about a 40 mile radius, containing parts of PA, NJ, MD, and DE. Counties include Philadelphia, Berks, Camden, Chester, Cecil, and others (see figure 1).


Figure 1: Delaware County Geographic Area [1]

The population of Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD combined statistical area in 2013 was just over 7 million (which includes all urban clusters containing more than 10,000 people). This is the sixth largest metropolitan area in the United States of America.

Now that we have elaborated what DHC is, and what geographic region I am interested in, I will take some time to explain how it connects to my Christian worldview, including some of the trends that make this activity morally good or bad.

As we see in the story of creation, God gave us the task to be cultivators of the earth. In order to culture and develop the earth we need the proper competencies and abilities, therefore requiring increasing skills.  Here we’re focusing on the knowledge and skills of the people, which Adam also possessed in order to do the task that he had set out for him, which was to cultivate the garden. If we want people cultivating conditions for life in the Delaware Valley, then we need to develop and form them in the right way, just as God formed and shaped Adam for the task that he had set out for him. The Delaware Valley is part of the earth, and cultivation of the abilities people have in that region will result in cultivating conditions for flourishing life in that region.

Cultivation of skills is not our only task in the Delaware Valley – we are also called by God to be agents of restoration, restoring people from a place of inability to a place of ability. The world has become corrupted due to human pride and immaturity, which means that certain parts of God’s creation are broken and in need of restoration, even parts of people’s learning in Reading, PA. Perhaps an adult who grew up in Reading missed out on their education as a child due to some corrupted family system, where the child’s parents don’t support the child’s education. God desires for us to identify places of distortion in education and restore it to what he intended.

Work that develops in someone the ability to perform labor advances the kingdom of light. Labor that boosts economic value is good, and within the control of the kingdom of light. People who teach others how to do something productive boost people’s skills in a good way. A chef instructor at a culinary arts institute teaches other people how to prepare food in a way that makes the food worth more. A life coach who gets to know someone may find out the individual in focus may have a habit of talking in a disrespectful way to their teachers. The life coach is then free to bring this problem to the student’s attention in an effort to instill an attitude of respect in the student. The unemployment rate of the Delaware Valley is decreasing, which is movement in the direction of victory for the kingdom of light (see figure 2)!

Figure 2: Declining Delaware Valley Unemployment Rate 2013- July 2015 [2]

A force that destroys or inhibits a person’s labor ability advances a purpose of the kingdom of darkness, which is to create bondage instead of freedom. Someone who is able-bodied may grow up in a system that produced in them a belief about life that they don’t need to work, because they can life off of public assistance. Say that their parents never left the house when the person grew up. The person who grew up in that environment has the capacity to go and become self-sufficient, but they do not know that lifestyle because they have never seen it. The ignorance here creates a limitation on the person which prevents them from developing as a person.

Now that we have described some philosophy which situates the importance of DHC and some principles for discerning good and bad there, let’s turn our attention to a few works that are being done in this area, as well as some contributing organizations and people.

The Philabundance Community Kitchen, a program based in Philadelphia, is working to develop human capital in the Delaware Valley. [3] They have a program that involves 14 weeks of job training, ServSafe training, and life skills training, which boosts in students the ability to sustain themselves and to add worth to the community. Many students come in dependent on public assistance, but after graduation 81 percent become placed in the food service industry, and thus begin contributing to the economic prosperity of the Delaware Valley.

Candace Matthews-Bass of the Philabundance Community Kitchen helped found their job training and life skills program, and presently works as the director of this program. She is committed to giving people second chances to become self sufficient. She works in service of this mission by guiding the direction of the PCK program, meaning that she has coordinated the program’s location changes. She has regular face to face contact teaching the students math, developing their ability to run things like cash registers or do math for converting the measurements in recipes.

Another organization, Eastern University, a Christian liberal arts university based in Delaware county, develops students’ leadership qualities in a way that allows them to provide better goods and services to not only the Delaware Valley (DV), but to the world. One need of the Delaware Valley community is wise, convicted leadership, and Eastern produces conviction in their graduates over years of teaching by people who already have conviction about acting with the goal of realizing what is good. By having students think through difficult issues, and putting them into positions of leadership, they have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills.

Eastern University is devoted to instilling a commitment to justice, Christ, and the common good in their students. They have a program for their students called the Leadership Fellows program which teaches students about leadership, and requires greater involvement in leadership positions at their college and in their communities. Leadership is a less tangible skill than knife cuts, so it can be more difficult to develop in students, but it is needed in the people of the DV.

Now we’ll imagine a change to the DV public school system that could be done to improve HC. Changes to the public school system that reflect the effective principles of PCK could help the DV boost their people’s skills and character. Economic value is produced by the needs of the community – people pay for work that they need and value, so a helpful question inquires into the needs DV has for its human capital. What qualities and abilities does DV need in its working population? The DV needs people with bodies and minds able enough to work to have the qualities they need to be employable. Ideally, every graduate from high school in this region would be employable, but many people either drop out, or graduate high school still not employable. They still may not have adequate math skills to run a cash register. So some change in the education system could be made by adding effective principles from PCK.

Section two: Myself in response to what’s going on

Why I am interested? How I can employ my strengths in service of this concern?

The core reason I feel called to DHC is because of my commitment to Christ. He values DHC as a good activity in the world, secondary to that are the particulars of my strengths and history that contribute to my suitedness for a career in this area. Me moving into DHC in the DV is a good choice.

There are a number of ways my worldview has implications for understanding my vocation to DHC. I will mention a few key reasons. To begin with, all are called. I know I am called to work. Second, all positions are of interest to and in service to God. Some are in more right-relationship with him and some are more distorted. Developing a region’s job skills, in whatever form that comes, is a position of interest to and in service to God. Third, God calls us to reform and challenge fallen structures. In seeing the way the public school system produces in people a lack of the skills they need to contribute to the economy, arising out of that reality is a call to reform and challenge that fallen structure of education, because it is currently moving in the direction of the death of people’s contribution, rather than towards vivid, living, valuable additions to the DV society. The needs of the the DV community give rise to the value of helping people become better ready to work. The community needs job ready people, so the work to reinforces employability gives it value. Work can be understood as co-creation with God. God is working to develop people to take hold for the next generation and to keep the world going, and part of that is developing the attributes people need to meet the needs of the community, and so we co-labor with him in meeting the need for improving people.

God calls us to make good decisions, and gives us freedom to make these choices. We see in Solomon’s prayer a request God for understanding to better judge and rule the people. However, God also calls through extraordinary experiences, as we see in Moses’ hearing a voice out of a burning bush. However, I have not had any extraordinary experiences from God.

How have I come to take these particular challenges as my own? I have discerned that it will be a good decision and good course of work for me, as I have some gifts and abilities necessary, and have been acted on in particular ways that make human capital development a good choice where I can effectively impact this area of life.

In the past I have acquired jobs where developing people was an important skill required for doing the job well, which makes me suited for moving into DHC. I have been accepted to become resident advisor (RA), and therefore judged to be a good RA, which is a position where one needs to hold a group to a particular standard in an effort to shape them to the vision Gordon College has for them. That was 2013-2014. For the summer of 2014 Partners in Development (PID) accepted my application to become a field intern, which was partly due to the recommendation I had from Laura Carmer (a co-director of an honors program I participated in, which was focused on vocation) who told me and told PID that I have a strong ability to develop trust in new relationships. Part of that quality comes out of my aptitude for opening up and letting people into my life and struggles.

I can employ my strength in learning to identify new negative trends in HC. I have a talent in learning new pieces of knowledge and new things that people are teaching me, or new skills, which can assist in more effectively enabling other people to become productive workers- by Over the years I have developed this talent of mine into a strength. Learning is important for developing an aptitude for the things that one needs to know to teach people the skills they’ll need to succeed for the workforce. The knowledge needed to contribute changes over time, and those trends must be learned by the teacher before they can be shared with the student. But also, learning what the problems that people developing work skills are encountering could prove a helpful skill in figuring out what to respond to. The Kingdom looks to have people ready to do excellent work, and that means being aware of and ready for changes that are coming or happening in the area of work. The fall leads to ignorance, a lack of the knowledge necessary to do various things.

My work habits are characterized by my appreciation for drawing up a detailed plan of action, and then getting the support of my co-workers in carrying out the endeavor. I can employ this habit to come up with a plan for subverting the environments that malnourish people of work models and instead giving them models they can strive to become like, then get the support of a team of people to execute that plan. This summer I carried out an independent study in the process of my own learning and development, and one part of it was a challenges and opportunities essay, which focused on current problems that PCK was facing. I had to gather the support of my team in watching my presentation on the report and in giving me feedback and evaluation of the report and my presentation, but once I did, the work I did ended up contributing to some of my coworkers who were looking for research on workforce development and community kitchens. There I drew up a plan of action to develop a response to the problem facing PCK, and gained the support of my co-workers in executing that plan.

I can employ my strength for thinking about things to develop ideas about how to effectively develop HC. I’m also talented when it comes to thinking about things, I love to think about things, and even in writing this paper, I’m excited to develop my ideas about what I’m called to and about what’s going on in building strategic value of laborers. I enjoy long periods of time alone to research this topic of building value in a group of people and how to do that. I am developing focus and thus turning this talent into a strength by managing my time. One effect of the fall into human capital development is the distortion of peoples’ ideas of what the actual problem is. The real problem is sometimes very difficult to discern, and there may be many distorted ideas about what the actual problem that is holding people back, or there may be ideas that are distorted about what people need in order to develop. Someone may think that making it regular to let people slide on their program requirements may be an appropriate response to their status as people who are not actually as capable as others. However, is that really, actually an effective way to develop people into what they need to be to contribute to the needs of communities? Perhaps a better way is to believe the best of people, and believe that people who grew up in a project are just as capable as those who grew up in an ivy-leager’s home. Determining the actually more effective way requires careful thought and research.

My strength of learning can be used to cultivate human capital by learning the ways that people best learn. And then to apply that into the way that a company develops their people. So if I am working at a large investment management company, they’ll have a human resources department, like Vanguard. Vanguard has a human resources department, and part of it is dedicated to teaching their people and improving them. The actions of Vanguard’s HR department in turn affects the DV, but only a small part of it. Why is learning so critical for teaching? Because people go to teachers for new and good information, and the process of learning gathers new information and refines old information.

I’m a person of integrity, which is a gift that God has given me, and I want to use that to steward the human capital of God’s good creation – the way human capital and stewarding with integrity relate is that I’m going to examine the way that people are being taught, and work to the end that they are working to have integrity as well. And also I want to keep an eye out for what people are being taught to do and think, cause some beliefs that are taught can be harmful to people, such as teaching a view towards work that workers do it only to provide for themselves, omitting any sense of consideration about how their work contributes to the common good.

A gift I have been given is my history of experience in education, which helps expand my vision for how people can be cultivated through education. I have been acted upon in such a way that it became very easy for me to go to a Christian liberal arts college, which is a unique philosophy of education, and very well rounded. And so with this vision I have for education as formation, as I have seen and experienced at Gordon College, I have the potential to become someone who can develop people into a vision that contributes to their formation beyond professional skills, but that contributes to their intellectual maturity, which is required for certain jobs. A job where you’re governing people, and determining what they can and can’t do is going to require some thoughtful consideration, as to benefit the people and not harm them.

How is human capital a resource to be stewarded? With the joy I take in thinking about things, I could consider what it means to steward people that you’ve been entrusted with and what it means to develop their capacities to contribute. Looking at a business from the printing world, Masthof press, we see some of the structure of a manager is to steward their employees, and in that structure there is direction towards life that is characterized by respect, honor, appreciation, grace, and consolation. When an employee is highly helpful to the organization, the manager may celebrate them by rewarding them with a bonus. Just to appreciate and bring together his employees, the owner of Masthof this summer brought everyone and their families to a buffet at Shady Maple Smorgasborg in Lancaster county. So in my strength of developing ideas by thinking about them, or by research, I could develop the understanding and knowledge I need to effectively develop human capital if I’m in a manager or ownership type position.

Outline of the next steps I can take to address this concern

Currently, I do not have skills necessary to move into a position where I will be significantly contributing to anyone’s development, and I have strong desire to develop very tangible skills and expertise that can be used to effectively complete a specific task. Gordon College will help develop me into a person who is distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character, which will give me soft skills to be effective in addition to my hard skills, but also then I could have a bigger picture about the significance of my work, and where I’m going, and where I want to push the industry towards, with an ethical framework for making good decisions. I want to memorize information that is required for my job. I have the idea that understanding lots of information is an important part of the bottom or the actual product producing people of any position, and how could I manage without that knowledge? I could manage without the expertise of producing the product, I think, so long as I understand the objectives and can delegate. However, I could not evaluate what is excellent quite as well without the expertise of producing the product in question. However, I do have the capacity to work in ways that help people develop personality traits that will help them. I could go back into work with an organization like PCK, where I am in a small way contributing to the functioning of the overall program, which helps their core area of activity, which is developing students. However, I would not be the one shaping the program or working directly with the students. 

I could work with The Vanguard Group in an effort to develop my understanding of business and investing, which I could then use to move into a position where I’m developing other people’s investing knowledge with that information, and thereby increasing their ability to produce worthwhile things for a geography. The Vanguard Group has a few positions that I qualify for and could apply in September 2015 for a position summer 2016, and these positions would help me to cultivate business acumen helpful for developing people in the DV. This would allow me to move more effectively into a role where business knowledge is required, so the position would look more like program and business development (with human capital development as a concern). An option down the road would be to try and move into HR with Vanguard to be taking part in the ways that they’re forming their employees. A problem I currently have is that I don’t have any skills that are particularly expert type skills. Currently, as of September 9th, 2015, I can make an application to Vanguard for their Client Relationship Specialist position, which functions as an entry level position. Another position at Vanguard is as a Developer, who would help test products, and I would learn to develop software. There’s the Vanguard Accelerated Development Project program (VADP). The College to Corporate Internship (C2C) –Business. Acceleration into Financial Professional Program (AFP). Technology leadership program. Administrative Assistant. Entry Level Developer. That’s what I can do now in order to apply for a position next summer.

Another route I could take is beginning a Master’s in counseling fall 2017, perhaps even at Eastern University, which would assist me in my personal, face to face development of human capital, because through learning about counseling I would gain knowledge of how people’s psychology of development works. If I want to develop a program or business with a strong human capital development component, business and psychology knowledge could be very helpful.

This coming year, my final year as a full time undergraduate student of Gordon College, majoring in sociology, I can focus on learning what Gordon and sociology have for me, and how they apply to developing human capital, and how they apply to my work this coming summer. Gordon strives to graduate students distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character. It would benefit me and my work to ask how those qualities manifest themselves in investment management. One thing that could help me do this is write a two-page paper from each class connecting the ideas of that class to the work that I plan to entering this coming summer, particularly Vanguard. That is the direction I am going to move towards initially, which means eventually learning business concepts and money management concepts, which is a skill I could bring to any position after doing this job. I’ll focus on learning the Series 7 General Securities Representative information next summer, hopefully on the job at Vanguard, and then I could work for a year and a half at Vanguard, marry Kendel Lyn, and be free to either continue work with Vanguard or move into work or study elsewhere.

I will also be focusing on peace and conflict as a part of my study at the Balkans, which can lead to insight that could be applicable for moving into work with an organization, because there may come up tensions between me and co-workers, and then I could step up above and beyond my duties to fulfill that requirement. I would keep my eye out for that. And I could also keep my eye out for that sort of thing during my spring semester at Gordon college.

I won’t always be able to predict how my information might relate to my upcoming job, but I could develop a contact in the organization I plan on working for who would help me figure out how the information I learn could relate to my work with them. Maybe they’d be willing to talk once a month or so over the coming year, and during those times I could brainstorm about how what I have been learning could connect to my job, but also I could brainstorm about how what I will be studying can be directed to think about relation to my upcoming job. After this job I could move into assisting nearly any organization invest, and therefore create value for them.

I could also learn more about Vanguard by making a regular discipline of studying content explicitly required and related to the work I’ll do next summer, like details of the company and knowledge I’ll need to do good work for them. This might take the form of every Saturday morning I take an hour to research information related to the job I’ll be doing. I could do work on attaining my General Securities Representative Qualification. Perhaps that would be unnecessary and my energy would instead be better focused on other things.

In order to figure out a good use of my career preparation study time I could talk with people at Vanguard to focus that time, or whatever organization I end up working for or moving towards. Perhaps there are people there interested in developing new employees that would be willing to talk with someone who is going to work there. It would be a unique relationship. The relationship would turn into a mentor type relationship, and perhaps I could even in the end find someone who somehow moved from the position I’m interested in to either a management position, HR position, or conflict resolution spot. Maybe there’s even someone with a Christian worldview I could look up to, like Jeremy Kinsey or Dave Mcnamara (who I’ll discuss later). There’s also the person who I met at Vanguard EXPLORE day, his name is Nojan Zomorrodian, and he liked the questions I was asking, so he gave me his email address. [4]

James Taylor will be a good person to talk to because of the way he’ll be able to help me imagine how my peace and conflict studies might help me serve financial services. He is the director of the Balkans program, and will be my professor for a few classes this coming semester, fall 2015. He specializes in peace and conflict, and philosophy. His doctoral thesis is on a revision to one of Kierkegaard’s ideas.

In the spring, Dr. J would be a good person to follow up with and connect with about zeroing in on my understanding of sociology, and imagining how that might aid my work in financial services. I have a history with him as well, and so he’d be a good contact to go forward with, especially to have a professor who has seen real growth in my academic abilities. That would be very good. He had me for 2014 fall and 2015 spring, and in the 2015 spring him and I had a 1 on 1 guided study, where we met a few times a week to go through the foundational thinkers in sociological thought. Sociology focuses on groups of people, and the way that their history of choice and apprehension affects life and circumstances. Financial services provide help to groups of people with their money, so some sociological understanding of what peoples’ understanding of finance is like could help penetrate into giving them better advice as I walk them through various deals on the phone. And ultimately having that business knowledge would help me develop programs or people to have more profit producing proficiency.

Jeremy Kinsey and Dave MacNamara are Vanguard employees and members of the Hopewell Network, which is the organization that my home, local church, Hopewell Christian Fellowship (HCF) subscribes to. Perhaps I could even have a conversation with one of them every other month updating where I’m at with school and then even brainstorming about how what I’ve learned connects to preparation for working in financial services, and then making some goals with them about what I could do in the future with them. Developing a relationship with them would first involve talking to them about their willingness to make the time for a regular conversation. I could do that this coming Sunday at Hopewell, Sunday September 13th. Furthermore, I could use them as contacts in my application to Vanguard. Jeremy told me to use him as a reference on my application, though I have not met Dave yet. Jeremy was also wondering what questions I had about working there, and I asked about hiring, and he said they do already have some interns from this past summer hired for next summer.

Pastor Mark Kraybill of HCF is very supportive and interested in what the young adults of Hopewell are doing, and him and I have a good relationship from working together on leading the young adults group in summer 2015. I remained committed and arranged for various leaders nearly each week, and then taught someone else to do that same organizational task. He would be helpful in brainstorming people I might connect to that could be helpful.

Finally, my brothers in Christ David Betz may be able or interested in talking with me, helping me learn financial information, and perhaps we could forge some sort of joint vision for our work the next few years. He has a common passion with me for doing tangible work.