In 2018, journalist, Detroit News columnist, author, and community leader Bankole Thompson contacted Lawrence Tech seeking help to build a website for a new endeavor that would become the nonprofit PuLSE Institute (Institute for Public Leadership and Social Equity). Two 2018 graduate IT students with a concentration in Business Analytics answered the call and over that summer and fall, developed and launched www.thepulseinstitute.org . Venkata Rathna Anirudh Mamidipaka, currently Lead Data Engineer for Valley National Bank of New Jersey, and Varun Vikram, currently a Data Scientist for Sunsoft Technologies, Inc., and its client Daimler Truck North America, said that they were “proud to contribute to the start-up nonprofit dedicated to solving the vexing social problems of poverty and inequality of income and wealth, the first known entity of its kind in the city.”
Founded and headquartered in Detroit, The PuLSE Institute is “an independent non-partisan think tank committed to deep analysis and examination of the broad spectrum of issues affecting a majority of the people who are often left out of the conversation about the future of the city. The Institute works to promote dialogue and debate about socioeconomic issues and how they impact public policy and quality of life in Michigan’s largest city.”
And that’s how LTU’s College of Business and Information Technology (CoBIT) and The PuLSE Institute partnership began. Dr. Massood Omrani , a faculty member of the College of Business and IT, serves in the PuLSE Institute’s Academy of Fellows. The Fellows, who come from all walks of life and experience, are social impact volunteers driven by their interest and commitment to improving the lives of those who live with the shackles of poverty. Omrani has contributed articles and analyses about how Wall Street should be an ally in the fight against poverty. On March 5th, Omrani was interviewed about the disease of poverty, particularly in America, on Sunday Nation with Bankole Thompson .
In his response to the tough questions about eradicating poverty, Omrani said, “Poverty is a disease. Government has a role; if we raise the minimum wage, the economy grows. Businesses that argue against the minimum wage are looking at the short term and they look through a microscope at their own business. But if you look at the big economy, it benefits businesses. Eighty-four percent of those households on welfare in this country have a full-time job. We are subsidizing the payroll of those companies because they are paying $8/hr. So, you work 2000 hours a year, which is full time, and you make $16,000, which is below the poverty line and then the government must step in to provide benefits. So, we’re subsidizing the businesses, not the poor people.
“What can companies do? Most of the big companies write a check to these charity organizations and wash their hands and think they do a good job. That’s fine. The poverty line is about $36,000 in the U.S. Instead of giving the charity a million dollars, give 25 people jobs, provide transportation to these 25 people, give them dignity and honor, and each of them feeds 4 or 5 other people in their household. That’s $40,000 a year and, in and of itself, 4 or 5 people are out of poverty. This is a meaningful way to eliminate poverty. If 10 companies did this, there would be thousands of people out of poverty.” (You may watch the entire interview segment by clicking here.)
– Mina Jena
Omrani is the author of two articles about poverty, one titled "MBA Professor Speaks Out: Poverty Diminishes Our Value System" published on the PuLSE Institute website, and the other titled Who Takes Advantage of the Welfare Money that Comes From Our Taxes? The second article, written on January 30, 2023, for PuLSE Institute, is expected to be uploaded in the next several weeks. Omrani’s premise is “we are simply subsidizing the payroll of companies who don’t pay their employees enough and the government has to subsidize these working people by our taxes. Since it is not reasonable that someone who is working about 2000 hours a year and still not being able to support her or his family, it is obvious that we, the taxpayers, are subsidizing the payroll of these public or private companies.”
What can LTU do? “We are looking for funding to help underprivileged students with high potential to come to our school for free. Many LTU professors donate their time to go to impoverished area schools to teach K through 12 students,” Omrani said.
Mina Jena, director of business programs for CoBIT, said, “As individuals, each of us on this planet has the opportunity and responsibility to contribute to the betterment of society. This is what we want to instill in our students, giving back for the gifts we’ve received, no matter where their LTU degree takes them.
“We encourage any LTU student, not just our own CoBIT students, to learn more about The PuLSE Institute and volunteer their time and talent.”
Thompson is a member of CoBIT’s Advisory Board.
by Renée Ahee