Healing Our Communities Through Addressing ‘Opportunity Youth’
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
America is better than this.
The division and intolerance. The violence and pain. Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas are only the latest in a long, long list of cities struck by tragedy.
Over the past two years, through the power and prism of social media, we’ve seen firsthand the breakdown of trust and communication between law enforcement and the communities they are called upon to protect and serve. A growing list of African American men have been killed by law enforcement - and we’ve seen the tragic and inexcusable death of police officers in direct response.
While many are focused on understanding how we got here, it’s equally important to focus on a constructive path forward. I don’t have the solution to reconcile the anger, the loss, the injustices, and the bias, but I do believe that offering boys and young men of color the safety, respect, and life opportunities they deserve can reverse some of the challenges they disproportionately experience.
To reset a course with boys and men of color, we can start by creating and strengthening opportunities that help them succeed at every stage of their lives. Key to this is nurturing young people, ages 16-24, who are neither employed nor in school - many now refer to them as “Opportunity Youth”, given that they represent a sizeable opportunity for America. In the U.S. today, there are more than 5.5 million Opportunity Youth, and many of them live in communities of color. The potential, both for Opportunity Youth and for American businesses, is huge. The private sector recognizes a growing talent gap and an increased need for skilled employees. At the same time, only 20% of African American, Asian, and Hispanic teens are currently able to find jobs. In 2020, 123 million high-skill and high-wage jobs will be available, but only 50 million workers will be qualified to fill them. To read the rest of this article click here.