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As one of the coordinators of the White House Mentorship Program I was moved by HandsOn Greater DC Cares' new initiative to encourage for-profit corporations to provide mentoring opportunities for under-served youth in the Greater D.C. Community. The organization demonstrates the importance of bringing public and private sectors to together to better serve our communities.

Hispanic leaders in Colorado, like so many in the United States, are committed to addressing challenges and improving opportunities for their community. They want to work with the Federal government to understand policies, access information, leverage resources, and build collaboration that will help provide solutions to pressing concerns. In Denver, I saw this commitment first hand.

There was a time when Sydney Jimason's prospects didn't look bright. She was kicked out of high school, unemployed, and spending time on the streets of DC. But that all changed when she learned about the Latin American Youth Corps YouthBuild program.

Todd Schnittke proudly served his country during the Gulf War as a Multiple Launch Rocket System Technician from 1989-1993. Yet, he had a will to continue his service to the United States that never disappeared. Now, he proudly serves under another title – AmeriCorps member at the AMVETs Career Center in Mansfield, Ohio.

Earlier this summer, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the graduation of 22 Green City Force AmeriCorps members in New York City. Green City Force recruits young adults, ages 18-24, who are currently unemployed or underemployed high school graduates or GED-holders from low-income neighborhoods.

Throughout time, a community has often determined the success or failure of its members. A youth’s environment shapes the adult they will become, so it is critical that young people are surrounded by positive role models and caring adults in a nurturing community.

Communities have a long history of coming together to revitalize and transform their areas. From the settlement houses of the late 19th century to the 1960s War on Poverty, communities have been collaborating for centuries to improve their surroundings.

America's young people have always been a particular passion of mine. Maybe it's because I have three children or perhaps it's because I work with a staff of young professionals who keep me thinking young. In working with young people, I've come to hold one truth above all: the youth of America have the power to change the world if we give them the tools, the mentorship, and the opportunity to do it.

How do we open up economic opportunity to every young adult in America? As a former high-tech entrepreneur, CEO, and philanthropist, I have tried to tackle challenges that were similarly daunting and seemingly intractable. I've found that the “path forward” is almost always the same – large scale social change requires an “all hands on deck” approach that is proactive, focused, and inclusive.

Last week, I joined a community conversation organized by the United Way of the Bay Area. It was one of five forums in my region, of more than 100 gatherings in 30 cities across the country this spring. These events are bringing together local leaders, youth, and citizens to map out a plan to help young people find paths to economic independence.

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