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Leaders Turn Out for Creators Wanted in S. Carolina

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This week, the Creators Wanted Tour Live continued to disseminate its timely message: Manufacturing jobs are rewarding, well-paying and fun—and perhaps now more than ever, they need qualified people to fill them.

The tour, a project of the NAM and its workforce-development partner, The Manufacturing Institute, is on its second stop in West Columbia, South Carolina, through today. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster stopped by on Wednesday, and yesterday, some more big names turned out to greet students, parents and teachers and talk about the nation’s need for more creators.

Big challenge: “The challenge is truly significant,” MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee said at the event. “We have over 900,000 jobs open in manufacturing today.”

  • Creators Wanted, the program of which the mobile experience is a part, aims to help close the skills gap through the recruitment of 600,000 workers by 2025, Lee said.
  • Creators Wanted also seeks to increase by 25% the number of students enrolled in technical and vocational education and upskilling programs.

Big reward: NAM board member and Nephron Pharmaceuticals Owner and CEO Lou Kennedy, host of the West Columbia tour stop, actively recruited the job seekers in the audience.

  • “What I hope you’ll learn from your experience as you go through this super-cool truck behind me is that manufacturing is a new way to make money, and great money,” Kennedy said, gesturing to the Creators Wanted mobile experience. “The average wage at Nephron is over $73,000 a year, so these are great-paying jobs.… We hope that you’ll be inspired today to join us or join my friends at other companies across South Carolina.”

“The first option”: South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette echoed Kennedy’s hopes for the event’s audience—and said that perceptions about manufacturing and technical career paths are changing for the better.

  • “Going to technical school is not a second-tier option anymore,” Lt. Gov. Evette said. “It is the first option for most of the students coming out of high school.… Thank you for being here today. Your eye is on the prize, and the prize is manufacturing here in South Carolina.”

A place for everyone: South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan and Trane Technologies plant manager Gregg Krick underscored the health of the manufacturing sector in South Carolina.

  • “The state of manufacturing in South Carolina is strong,” Morgan said.
  • Said Krick, who “start[ed] on the plant floor” at heating, cooling and ventilation-system maker Trane Technologies, “If you’re wondering if manufacturing is the place for you, take it from me—there is a place for you in manufacturing.”

The last word: Rounding out the program was NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, who reiterated the need for applicants in manufacturing—and shared an anecdote from his family history.

  • During the Great Depression, “my grandfather left his family farm and … stood in line every day for six months” to get a manufacturing job. He finally landed one due, Timmons said, to sheer perseverance.
  • “Today you don’t have to do that,” Timmons said. “You can look around and see what jobs are most exciting to you, and you can fill out an application and you can get hired.… According to the MI and Deloitte, we will have 4 million manufacturing jobs to fill between now and 2030.…  These aren’t just numbers—these are opportunities. Manufacturing jobs are opportunities to earn not just a great living with excellent benefits; they’re also an opportunity to have fun.”

In the news: The second stop of the tour continues to receive widespread attention, with Fox 57 capturing student and teacher reactions to the campaign.

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Heroes MAKE America Keeps Growing

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The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America hasn’t let COVID-19 slow it down. To the contrary, it has expanded and added new features in 2021 in order to prepare more members of the military community for manufacturing careers.

“The work we’re doing aligns so well with what our manufacturers are prioritizing,” says MI Vice President of Military and Veterans Programs Babs Chase. “We are continuing to serve a community that has sacrificed so much and will continue to sacrifice. We truly appreciate the manufacturers that are standing beside us.”

Growth during a pandemic: Heroes, which works with local technical colleges to provide certification and career-readiness preparation, increased its impact in the past year and has now placed graduates with more than 250 companies in 42 states.

  • Training programs at Fort Riley in Kansas, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Campbell in Kentucky continue to grow, and Heroes will soon launch a new training site in Georgia.
  • In August, Heroes graduated the first class of its new Fort Hood mechatronics training program, which combines electrical and mechanical engineering and computer technology with advanced manufacturing.

Going virtual: This month, thanks to the support of the Caterpillar Foundation, Heroes is officially launching a fully remote training program in a synchronous model that will incorporate hands-on simulations using virtual reality.

  • The new program is a partnership with Texas State Technical College and New York City–based tech startup TRANSFR, and will allow transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses to participate in Heroes regardless of their physical location—so long as they have access to Wi-Fi.

Connecting with Heroes: 2021 is also the second year of Heroes Connect, the program’s direct response to COVID-19. This virtual platform facilitates introductions between the manufacturing industry and military-community members seeking jobs.

  • In-person tours have always been a cornerstone of the Heroes program, and Heroes Connect provides another avenue for those essential introductions to manufacturing leaders and veterans already in the industry. Even as Heroes restarts in-person tours, Heroes Connect will remain a vital part of the initiative, says Chase.

As she put it, “Heroes Connect is continuing to break down barriers around physical location, showcasing manufacturers all across the country for Heroes participants as well as the greater military community.”

Diversity data: By the end of 2021, more than 625 students will have graduated since Heroes’ inception in 2018. These students are as diverse as the career opportunities available in manufacturing:

  • The graduates represent more than 136 different military occupational specialties.
  • Nearly half of all graduates (47%) come from minority populations.
  • Approximately 16% are women.
  • Only 47% of alumni have any post-secondary education.
  • Forty-one percent of graduates were in the military for 10 years or more.

Success stories: The Heroes program boasts too many success stories to recount in one place, but here are just two:

  • Former U.S. Marine Zachary Willis came to Heroes after health issues led to his departure from the military. “It’s been amazing,” said Willis, who earlier this year began a manufacturing job at Hodgdon Powder Company. “The ability to reach out and connect with other employers all around the country—from smaller companies to huge international corporations—is something you don’t see in very many places. I wish more people took advantage of programs like this.”
  • Then there’s Hugo Hinojosa, who served 22 years in the U.S. Army before starting the Heroes program. He now works as a business partner in the human resources division of WestRock Company, and says, “I’m working in a place where the values are in line with what I was brought up with in the military—integrity, respect, accountability and excellence.”

The final say: “For our team, serving the military population is crucial,” Chase said. “But equally vital is our service to manufacturers—and they recognize the value that this population brings to their teams.”

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NAM Launches Manufacturers Retirement & Savings Plan

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Are you looking for a retirement plan that fits your needs and workforce? There’s good news: the NAM is rolling out the Manufacturers Retirement & Savings Plan—a 401(k) plan designed specifically for manufacturers across the country.

The scope: The Manufacturers Retirement & Savings Plan is a multiple employer plan available to all NAM members, designed to cover more than 14,000 companies and associations. Companies of all sizes can participate, creating new financial opportunities and offering retirement security to the millions of men and women who make things in America.

The provider: The NAM selected Principal Financial Group® and HUB International LLC as the service providers. Principal Financial Group® is one of the largest retirement solutions providers in the United States, and HUB International is a leading North American insurance brokerage. Together, they will offer business owners and employees access to dedicated professionals who can offer guidance and assist with the day-to-day management of retirement plans.

The benefit: Offering benefits like 401(k) plans is a critical way for manufacturers to attract and retain talented employees, especially at a time of unprecedented job openings. But creating and operating a retirement plan can be expensive and time-consuming, imposing barriers for small and medium-sized companies. By creating an association-sponsored plan, the NAM is helping members across the board ensure efficiency, reduce risks and manage costs effectively all while improving retirement outcomes for employees and helping employers free up time and money. And with National Benefit Services engaged to administer the new plan, transitioning is simple as well.

What we’re saying: “Manufacturers want their employees to feel safe and secure about their financial well-being and to have confidence that they will be able to retire when they are ready,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “But operating a 401(k) plan can be challenging—especially for smaller companies. We can help with this—I’m proud that the NAM now offers our members access to best-in-class benefits for their teams.”

Learn more: Join us at one of two upcoming information sessions, Nov. 9, 2021 or Dec. 7, 2021.

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Creators Wanted Comes to Columbus

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The Creators Wanted campaign was created to recruit new talent, change perceptions about modern manufacturing and inspire the next generation of creators. Starting this week, the Creators Wanted Tour Live began visiting cities around the country to bring that message directly to Americans. The first stop: Columbus, Ohio.

The Tour Live features a series of escape rooms mounted on a mobile unit, with challenges that are intended to show participants how modern manufacturing actually works—and to be fun at the same time. During its four days in Columbus this week, more than 350 students got to participate, from Canal Winchester High School, Horizons Science Academy, Mechanicsburg School (Entertainment Tech), Sunrise Academy, Marysville Early College High School, Southwestern Career Academy and Millennium Community School.

The tour stop in Columbus also featured a number of exhibits and demonstrations, including opportunities to:

  • Meet and ask questions of associates at Honda, the tour’s official mobility sponsor, as well as see some of its cutting-edge vehicles;
  • Try out augmented reality technology from PTC;
  • Explore activations by The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Columbus State Community College and diversified metal manufacturer Worthington Industries;
  • Take part in a Creators Connect forum with creators at Honda, Abbott and Worthington Industries; and
  • Interact with Creators Connect, a new NAM and MI tool in beta testing, which matches people interested in manufacturing careers with pathways to achieve them.

A tour of the tour: The photos and videos from the Columbus events give you a taste of the excitement. Here, a few students begin the experience at the PTC AR demonstration:

Here are some students trying out the escape room and using the sort of creative thinking required for a manufacturing career:

Below, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons takes a look at one of the Honda automobiles that were on display.

The satisfied “smizing” of some successful manufacturers-in-training:

NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas, and the chief strategist of the campaign, caught up with some students to see what they thought of the experience.

The short answer?

Awesome indeed.

The reception: The tour stop in Columbus created a splash, receiving coverage in the press and attention from state and U.S. officials. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) put in a plug for Creators Wanted, encouraging students and parents to check out the tour.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted spoke at one of the events, urging students to pursue creative careers:

Meanwhile, News 5 Cleveland, Cleveland.com (subscription) and ABC 6 Columbus covered the Creators Wanted stop, while Good Morning Columbus (FOX 28) and Good Morning Cleveland (ABC 5) broadcast segments about the events.

The reach: The digital and media campaign around the Columbus tour stop also had a big impact, with more than 404,000 impressions, 4,200 clicks and 111,000 video views. It’s also on its way to more than 10,000 email signups from individuals interested in manufacturing career paths.

The last word: As Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee said at one of the events, “The challenge is significant: we have nearly 900,000 open jobs in manufacturing today—a new record. The promise is real: there can be many more people earning great livings and creating our future working in manufacturing in the United States.”

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MFG Day 2021 Is a Hit!

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MFG Day 2021 was a smashing success. This year, manufacturers throughout the nation hosted open houses, factory tours and job fairs—both on site and online—to introduce young people and others to the promise of modern manufacturing. And many companies and leaders took to social media to show their support and love for the industry. Here’s what we saw on Friday.

Presidential nod: On Sept. 30, President Biden proclaimed Oct. 1 to be National Manufacturing Day, to “commit to strengthening and supporting the American manufacturers and hardworking manufacturing employees of today as well as the manufacturers and workers of the future.”

State (and federal) support: At least 15 states issued their own Manufacturing Day proclamations, and more than 40 congressional representatives publicly marked the occasion.

Manufacturers in action: Hundreds of events took place across nearly all 50 states, both online and in-person.

Big support: MFG Day sponsors also marked the occasion:

In the news: Many local and national media outlets covered the day’s events. The coverage included an interview with NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” along with pieces and segments in Yahoo! Finance, The Times Leader and The Chattanoogan, as well as on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX affiliates nationwide.

More to come: “MFG Day” actually lasts for the entire month of October, so be sure to check out upcoming events at CreatorsWanted.org.

Press Releases

MFG Day 21 Commences in Person and Virtually Amid Record Career Opportunities in the Manufacturing Sector

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, announce the start of MFG Day 2021. Celebrated annually on the first Friday in October and with programming continuing throughout the month, MFG Day features focused events to showcase the exciting reality of modern manufacturing.

“The two biggest issues facing manufacturers in America are an ongoing perception problem and the skills gap,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “We have nearly 900,000 open jobs in manufacturing—a record for the industry—and 4 million jobs will need to be filled by the end of the decade. Closing that gap requires us to inspire, educate and empower the next generation of manufacturing workers—and that’s where MFG Day and our larger Creators Wanted campaign come in. MFG Day provides manufacturers from coast to coast the opportunity to open their doors and highlight the work of the people who make things in America, which will help us recruit skilled talent and reach next-generation manufacturing employees.”

Manufacturers will open their doors—in person or virtually—to students, parents, teachers and community leaders to offer a firsthand look at the career possibilities in the manufacturing industry. Originally founded by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, MFG Day is an initiative of the MI and also advances the mission of Creators Wanted, the industry’s year-round effort to build the workforce of the future.

NAM President and CEO and MI Chairman of the Board Jay Timmons added:

“As manufacturers of all sizes host MFG Day events and provide firsthand looks at the exciting world of modern manufacturing, attendees will come away with an incredible understanding of the possibilities available to them and with a head start on well-paying, challenging and rewarding careers like no other. MFG Day and all of the related events going on throughout October, along with the continued work of Creators Wanted, are essential parts of manufacturers’ ongoing, legacy work to strengthen and grow the manufacturing workforce of today and tomorrow.”

-The MI-

The MI grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all workers in America, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the NAM, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information on the MI, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.3 million men and women, contributes $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

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MFG Day 2021 Will Inspire Next Generation of Makers

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It’s finally here: MFG Day 2021!

Today The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s workforce development and education partner, officially kicks off the ninth annual day dedicated to inspiring the next generation of U.S. manufacturers.

Not just a day: Despite its name, the initiative will in fact run the entire month of October, and will feature nationwide, manufacturer-planned events aimed at giving students, parents and educators the chance to tour manufacturing facilities both virtually and in person.

  • Events include factory tours, expos, open hours, job fairs and community gatherings—you can find a complete list here.
  • Currently, there are more than 400 events registered on the MI website. Find out what’s happening in your area and sign up today!

Why it matters: As of July, the manufacturing industry had close to 900,000 open jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If the trend continues, this deficit could grow to 2.1 million by 2030, according to a recent study by the MI and Deloitte. It’s never been more urgent to get people interested in rewarding, lifelong manufacturing careers—for their own sake and the country’s.

  • The matter is of such importance that President Biden issued a proclamation declaring October 1 National Manufacturing Day, calling it a day on which “we … recognize the importance of our Nation’s manufacturers to every aspect of our lives.”

What you can do: The MI has a host of resources for those of you who want to spread the word and get involved. These include: 

  • Resources for students: The MI has unveiled a website for future creators, the students who might be considering manufacturing careers. Check it out or pass it on to a student you know.
  • Resources for manufacturers: Manufacturers who are currently planning an event, or considering one for later this year, we’ve got you covered! Check out this library of planning resources, including recordings of our four-part MFG Day planning series.
  • Become a sponsor: If you can’t host this year, why not sponsor the effort? View this year’s prospectus to learn more about how you can become an MFG Day sponsor and receive additional support.

And don’t forget Creators Wanted! The Creators Wanted immersive experience also launches this month, with its first tour stop in Columbus, Ohio coming next week. It will be open from October 4 to 7 at Mitchell Hall at Columbus State Community College. And don’t worry; the experience will take place under stringent COVID-19 safety protocols.

  • At the mobile experience, you’ll be able to enter an Escape Room-like challenge; get hands-on with technology demonstrations; meet creators who are making a difference and excited to share their career experiences; and access exclusive resources for manufacturing career pathways.
  • Reserve your own spot or get some for young people of your acquaintance here.

 The last word: As MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee says, “MFG Day provides manufacturers from coast to coast the opportunity to open their doors and highlight the work of the people who make things in America, which will help us recruit skilled talent and reach next-generation manufacturing employees.” In other words—don’t miss it!

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JBM Packaging Is the Place for Second Chances

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One day last year, when schools were closed due to the pandemic, President and CEO Marcus Sheanshang brought his kids to work with him at JBM Packaging of Lebanon, Ohio. And he knew exactly who should train the kids on the company’s envelope and packaging machines: Amanda Hall, one of the company’s star employees.

But Hall isn’t just a star; she’s a star with an unusual background. As Sheanshang put it, “We were having dinner that night, and I said to the kids, ‘Do you know something very interesting about Ms. Amanda? … Ms. Amanda was in prison a few years ago.’ They said, ‘No, there’s no way.’ They wouldn’t believe me.”

A factory for fair chances: In fact, Hall’s story is almost the rule, not the exception, for JBM. One-quarter of JBM’s employees are what the company calls “fair chance” hires, or those who have been involved with the criminal-justice system. Sheanshang expects that proportion to grow to half the workforce in the coming years.

How it began: Sheanshang instituted the hiring program, in which the company actively recruits future employees from 30 correctional institutions and halfway houses, about five years ago when looking for creative strategies to address labor shortages.

  • “We don’t have people applying for jobs,” Sheanshang said, referring to the manufacturing industry’s long-time struggle to find enough skilled employees. “Fair chance hiring really plugged that hole for us and allowed us to grow and get the right team members on our team who share our values. When they get out of prison, they have a spot here at JBM.”

How it works: While JBM won’t bring on anyone who has been charged with sex crimes, crimes against women or crimes against children, the company is committed to hiring and supporting all others who want and are eligible to work.

  • JBM has an on-staff change coach who works with all JBM employees to help them find housing, purchase a car and more. Her success with the employees has been so profound that JBM is looking to hire another such coach, Sheanshang told us.

Grand opening: In July, the packaging business opened a second plant, this one in downtown Cincinnati. While the company’s success made this expansion possible, JBM was also aiming to move closer to its fair chance employees and potential new hires.

  • “We noticed there’s a fair number of barriers in the Lebanon area [regarding] housing and transportation,” Sheanshang said. The downtown Cincinnati location offers more transportation resources “for folks looking to get back on their feet.”

Triumph over tragedy: Sheanshang is proud of the successes that fair chance employees have achieved. He shared the story of Brian, a fair chance hire who started out as a production worker and now is on the path to becoming a quality control supervisor. Another fair chance employee, Justin, also began at JBM at entry level. He is now on track to become a trainer of other employees.

  • “This is not stuff that’s given to them,” Sheanshang said. “This is stuff that they’re earning.”

The last word: “I would say to any CEO or other business owner, really take a hard look at fair chance hiring,” Sheanshang said. “When it gets down to brass tacks, this is a great strategy. If you have the systems in place to help fair chance hires, this will work.”

The Manufacturing Institute recently launched its second chance hiring initiative, which helps companies recruit and retain individuals with criminal records, just as JBM does. Learn more about this initiative here.

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Creators Wanted Tests New Mobile Experience

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The NAM and The Manufacturing Institute took the Creators Wanted Mobile Experience for a test-drive in advance of a nationwide launch designed to inspire, educate and empower the next generation of creators.

What it is: The Creators Wanted Mobile Experience features an escape room mounted in a mobile unit, with a series of challenges intended to help bust myths around manufacturing and show young people and their parents the exciting opportunities available in the modern manufacturing industry. The program is designed to travel to schools and community centers nationwide.

What we did: The NAM and the MI brought three groups to Dallas, Texas, to test out the Creators Wanted Mobile Experience: students aged 15–17, students aged 18–22 and parents who have children aged 15–22. The groups first had conversations about career interests and perceptions of manufacturing, followed by a walk-through of the Creators Wanted Mobile Experience and another conversation about perceptions of manufacturing and career expectations.

What we learned: The Creators Wanted Mobile Experience completely changed participants’ view of the manufacturing industry, showing them the benefits of a career in modern manufacturing and making them excited about the opportunities manufacturing offers. While most participants had previously been skeptical about the industry’s ability to offer good, rewarding career paths, individuals who went through the Creators Wanted Mobile Experience came to appreciate manufacturing as an industry that offers diverse opportunities and workforces, high-end careers, competitive wages, job security, the chance to have an impact and careers that instill pride.

Our take: “We have a record of nearly 900,000 open jobs in modern manufacturing today, and 4 million jobs to fill, according to The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, by 2030,” said NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas. “We knew we had to try something different to recruit and excite the next generation. We’re about to hit the next phase of our campaign to bring more of these rewarding opportunities to more people—and now we can be even more confident that we have the right approaches and messages to get the job done for manufacturers and for our country.”

Don’t take our word for it: Read the endorsement of the Creators Wanted campaign in The Dallas Morning News.

  • “Creators Wanted is a clever approach that teens will enjoy. We encourage parents and guidance counselors to consider it. But the larger point here is about the pipeline of workers needed to ensure our economy can continue to grow. NAM has taken the initiative to improve that pipeline, putting them ahead of the competition for now. We hope to see others join that race soon.”

Want to get involved? Join this list of manufacturing leaders and companies supporting the campaign. Click here to get involved.

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Still Leading the Way: Manufacturers Make Creators Wanted Live Possible

Through a global pandemic, manufacturers have led the way on health and safety measures, helping keep Americans working—for the U.S. and the world. Now the manufacturing industry continues that leadership while recruiting and inspiring the creators of the future.

On the road: Creators Wanted, the workforce campaign of the NAM and the MI, is getting ready to hit the road. The campaign formalized its COVID-19 safety protocols and is employing state-of-the-art technologies, like Sphere Synexis, provided by legacy sponsor Trane Technologies, to continuously fight viruses, bacteria and other hazards in the air and on surfaces. The mobile experience, along with other programming events and new online resources, will bring the story of modern manufacturing to communities across the country.

  • The experience, recently endorsed by The Dallas Morning News, is designed to capture the imaginations of students, teachers and parents and inspire the next generation of manufacturers.
  • It will complement the upcoming release of the NAM and MI’s innovative online resources for those seeking a career in manufacturing.

Coming to a town near you: The NAM and MI released the following Creators Wanted Live tour dates and stops.

  • Oct. 4–7: Columbus, Ohio
  • Oct. 12–15: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Oct. 20–22: West Columbia, South Carolina
  • Nov. 8–10: Pella, Iowa
  • Nov. 16–18: Freeport, Texas
  • Nov. 30 – Dec. 3: Dallas, Texas

Wait, there’s more! Community programming stops are also coming to Detroit, Michigan; Guthrie, Kentucky; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Carson City, Nevada. And a new suite of digital and online experiences and tools will bring the campaign to every state.

Thanks to strong support: “Our ability to mount this bold solution to the workforce crisis through the difficulties of a pandemic has been anything but certain,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and NAM Board Chair Mike Lamach said in a joint message to NAM membership. “It has taken the unwavering and strong support of some of America’s leading enterprises and business leaders to keep this campaign alive.”

See the full list of Creators Wanted sponsors here. Want to support the effort? Get involved—at any price point—here.

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