Worldwide Views on Opportunities for Youth

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[Ann is on vacation this week.  Of course she wrote this well before she headed out - we are posting it on her behalf.]


A few months ago I wrote "Lessons From Local Youth" - letting you know about a project we were working on called Community Conversations which we held with 5 different groups in Buncombe County. In it I shared what young people said about opportunities, education, and the community they live in.  

United Way Hosted Worldwide Conversations With Youth

We were part of conversations held in 12 countries and our local discussions were folded into a report by United Way Worldwide.  People talked about the kind of community they want to live in and what gets in the way – particularly opportunities for young people who have dropped out of school or who are out of work.  Check out the full report here.

Alignment With Our Work In Education, Income and Health

What struck me in the compilation of these conversations, is that around the world and around this country people want the same things – good paying jobs, good education and a healthy community.  These are the three focus areas for United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County – Education, Income and Health.  They also appear in our County’s community health assessment and sustainability plan.  It seems so obvious but so elusive!

People in the conversations viewed education as a critical element of a fair chance for opportunities for a good life.  Education is a predictor of income and health.  If you check out the Common Good Forecaster, you can enter your own county, move education levels up and see how it impacts other community indicators.

Participants also said they feel they are on their own. We noted that same feeling in our local conversations when young people said they have to depend on themselves and fight for opportunities to make a good life.  Around the world, people expressed lack of confidence that any single institution, organization, or government can fix the problems.  I see that sentiment as an opportunity to ask people – individuals - for solutions, rather than organizations.  And even more importantly to ask individuals to step forward and participate.

Next Steps for United Way in Buncombe County

We will continue the conversations in Buncombe County – small groups of people sharing aspirations, roadblocks and opportunities for positive change.  And we will have to figure out how to bring people together to hone in on the things we agree on and make something happen. By working with other entities and individuals, we can set a specific target to change a community condition. And that is important because we all do better when we all do better. 


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