Posted: August 23, 2015
Streets University is not ‘the’ solution to end all that is wrong with Black youth unemployment, but one organizations effort to start a break down of some of the most pressing elements that perpetuates poverty among them. With over 20% of Black youth on average being unemployed (earning no income) and in some large metropolitan cities this number is over 60%, the time for ‘real talk’ is necessary and real action, real solutions is an imperative.
The internet, airwaves, television and radio have more than enough people talking about it, scholars have analyzed it, and many are saying what needs to be done in the homes, community and within government to deal with, address or solve this compounding dilemma. What is not clear is ‘how can we reduce Black youth unemployment? What is a solid starting point to begin? Which programs hold the best promise to bring income to their pockets; while instilling in them the values, soft-skills and character they will need to effectively compete in a tough world?
A strong program, initiative or whatever we want to call it must be based off of a sound methodology that can be reviewed, vetted and one which answers some tough questions to a highly inquisitive; and skeptical crowd. Forget fancy slogans, fiery rhetoric or complicated jargon… With many many decade of talk, inaction and wishful (hopeful) thinking, there is no more time to just point fingers; or avoiding the fingers pointing right back at us for our failure to act in a collective manner that lifts our youth and propels them towards a positive future.
For solid initiatives to take root in the fabric of this nation, it will require collaboration, cooperation and a concentrated effort among those ready, willing and able to serve. Our organization doesn’t purport to provide a silver-bullet to a problem that has taken decades to produce, but we are offering something; when little else that’s viable is being offered, as an alternative to doing nothing and/or just talking about it. To us, solutions require more than just programs that teach soft-skills or how to be an ‘entrepreneur’, it requires a plan that puts dollars into the pocket of our young people and common sense into their minds; without compromising their pathway to a life of integrity or character. To this end, the most important factor in our Streets U initiative is that we provide the product, technical training and instruction to make the product, and a real opportunity to earn an income for getting the product into the market for those that can benefit the most.
We are not actively working to compete with other youth-based programs that can effect economic empowerment of our young people, but endeavor to work as a companion and in mutual respect to other existing programs. Often, what we propose is seen as ‘competition’ which leads to those fearful of competition bad-mouthing or working to delay the service, products and solution we offer. This type of mentality and the inaction that ensues is not in anyone’s interest; especially if we are serious about addressing this pandemic problem faced by our youth and young adults. Often we cannot get to the cooperation needed to initiate solid programs that are ready to roll because the ‘other organization’ has their own program & agenda that they want to initiate, knowing well that they do not have all of the components in place to really get what they have off the ground and into the marketplace. In essence, those we have reached out to are not willing to partner-up, move forward and work in unity; until they get their program up and running. We can never make progress like this, so in the end our youth and their future remains in limbo.
The time has come to stop making that which is practical, into something complex and in need for further debate, discussion and complicated pontification. It is time to stop delaying progress because of personal egos and ownership issues. It is time to stop talking-the-talk and past time to start walking-the-walk.
I have proposed a ‘shark tank‘ approach for nonprofit programs whereas different organizations pitch their youth employment, entrepreneurial or enterprise programs to those wanting to invest in what can deliver the best results (increased income and/or employment opportunity) for Black youth. Instead of hearing ‘the good spiel’, delivering fancy PowerPoints or giving the mic only to folks with big degrees and nice titles… a group must be able to backup their claim by the numbers and in a methodical, intelligent and coherent way. They must show the goods that are easy to follow and understand.
Those programs that take the least amount to startup, provide the best structural pathway and show the amount of earned income that will be pumped into the pockets of our young people should be supported, and then we can move on to the next. Programs that can effectively deliver multiple components i.e. increasing soft-skills, practical use & understanding of technology, increased proficiency in math, reading & writing, honing a better understanding of business, economics and industry (including global) should receive the highest priority in being supported…
Since our various organizations can’t seem to play together as a collective unit of one in the sandbox, then let the real competition begin to weed out the real from the fake, the live from the memorex. The time for talk is over… put up or shut up!
For more information on partnership email us at info or visit streetsuniversity.org on the web to learn more about our program initiative. (Serious Inquiries Only)
"While 16.4 percent of white teens lacked jobs, nearly twice that number – 29.7 percent – of black teens were unemployed, as were 22.1 percent of Hispanic youth"