Thursday, March 19, 2015

YouthUSA’s Vision of the Future

“Yesterday was a set-up”

By Eric Stradford and Stephanie A. Walker Stradford

AMWS, March 19, 2015, Atlanta –   Poverty, not ISIL, al qaeda, or boko haram, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being.  Citizens, speaking out against violence in their call for justice, will need to prepare young Americans to speak intelligently about their evolving rolls in a majority-minority America. 

Youth Achievers USA Institute, a national 501c3 public charity this week rolled out its alternative vision of the future for the nation’s poor.  A 10-year strategic plan calls on winners from 1996 to 2015 to share their stories about growing up in America.  Since 1996, the organization’s leaders have invested time and money towards achieving that “more perfect union” envisioned in the U.S. Constitution. 

Planning for a 2016 “I’m A Winner Dinner” and “Money-n-the-Bank” Summit invites beneficiaries and caring adult stakeholders to partner on policy and budgets in support of ongoing economic programs.  Every applicant to THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS wins a chance to win.  As a YouthUSA beneficiary, with all rights and responsibilities, a child’s vision of his own future is valued in seven categories as Money-n-the-Bank.  To enter, an American citizen, assisted by a caring adult:

a) turns on a computer,
b) opens a web browser at, and
c) completes the on-line application.

The organization is calling on caring adults to help local youth positively impact their own economic futures. A CALL FOR CONTRACTORS establishes leadership in an economic conversation that includes low income Americans.   A recent visit with wealth management advisors at PNC Bank offered insight on why poor people stay poor as rich people retain wealth and become even richer. 

“It is as simple as this,” said Hyman Bookbinder.   “The poor can stop being poor if the rich are willing to become even richer at a slower rate.”  That was fifty years ago as President Johnson declared War on Poverty.    In March 2014, as Chairman of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan released his "The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later" report, asserting that some 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans have not provided the relief intended and that there is little evidence that these efforts have been successful.

A study published in Forbes Magazine concludes that the rich became permanently richer and the poor permanently poorer from 1987 to 2009.  Five economists, including one from the U.S. Treasury and two from the Federal Reserve, used data from nearly 34,000 working age households’ 1040s, W-2s and Social Security records to figure out out how much of the much discussed rise in income inequality in the U.S. might simply reflect more volatility in earnings, with families having good and bad years.  Their unhappy conclusion: almost all of the rise in inequality is life-long.
More recently, Forbes examined state tax and inheritance laws that may unconstitutionally impede community reinvestment to benefit low income citizens. What happens to your Money-n-the-Bank when you die, can be impacted by where and how you live, learn, work and or worship.  The report, “Where Not To Die In 2014: The Changing Wealth Tax Landscape,” highlights a problem that is exacerbated by wealth management laws.     

According to the projections by the U.S. Census Bureau., the population age 65 and older is expected to more than double between 2012 and 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million. The older population would represent just over one in five U.S. residents by the end of the period, up from one in seven today. The increase in the number of the “oldest old” would be even more dramatic — those 85 and older are projected to more than triple from 5.9 million to 18.2 million, reaching 4.3 percent of the total population.

Even though Americans are expected to live longer, people will die.  When they do, particularly elders in the 21st Century Whole Village, a beneficiary must be ready, willing and able to inherit values as well as the monetary value of an inheritance.  If you happen to be a young American between age 7 and 24, chances are you think more about your wants than your needs, and more about your needs than those of the caring adults responsible for your “positive youth development.”  Learning can be as limited as a report card grade and as comprehensive as pursuing lifelong LEARN-2-EARN goals.   Building on your own leadership strengths, might happen by following the crowed, but banking on your future will ultimately be measured by your Money-n-the-Bank. 

Youth Achievers USA Institute and 12 federal agencies of the U.S. Government define “Positive Youth Development” as an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances youths' strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.

Children under 18 years represent 23 percent of the population, but they comprise 33 percent of all people in poverty.   Among all children, 44 percent live in low-income families and approximately one in every five (22 percent) live in poor families. Being a child in a low-income or poor family does not happen by chance. Parental education and employment, race/ethnicity, and other factors are associated with children experiencing economic insecurity.

By 2020, the race card that’s been ignored for too long by too many will become less relevant in conversations on equal rights and responsibilities.   The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043. While the non-Hispanic white population will remain the largest single group, no group will make up a majority.

All in all, the folks categorized as “minorities,” now 37 percent of the U.S. population, are projected to comprise 57 percent of the population in 2060. (Minorities consist of all but the single-race, non-Hispanic white population.) The total “minority” population would more than double, from 116.2 million to 241.3 million over the period.

The new and emerging argument for equal opportunity considers rights as well as responsibilities of a citizen.  The habit of responding “smh” to established logic will need to be replaced with progressive and inclusive process.

Asset-based community development (ABCD) is one approach considered for YouthUSA Corporate Leadership discussions.  ABCD differs from needs-based community development in that it focuses primarily on honing and leveraging existing strengths within a community rather than bolstering community deficiencies. Related to tenets of empowerment, it postulates that solutions to community problems already exist within a community’s assets.  Principles that guide ABCD include:

1. Everyone has gifts: each person in a community has something to contribute
2. Relationships build a community: people must be connected in order for sustainable community development to take place
3. Citizens at the center: citizens should be viewed as actors—not recipients—in development
4. Leaders involve others: community development is strongest when it involves a broad base of community action
5. People care: challenge notions of "apathy" by listening to people's interests
7. Listen: decisions should come from conversations where people are heard
8. Ask: asking for ideas is more sustainable than giving solutions