For young people, a job is more than just a paycheck, as important as that is; it’s about hope and an opportunity to learn valuable skills and gain experience that will help them throughout their lives. Unfortunately, this opportunity is out of reach for far too many young adults.
As we address the incredible challenges and obstacles young workers face in finding good-paying jobs, it’s critical that we make sure the voices of Detroit’s youth are heard, and that we respond. That’s why earlier this summer I hosted a roundtable discussion with members of the community about the state of youth employment at Detroit Fellowship Chapel. I was joined by my Senate colleague, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who was traveling the country seeking input to address the problem of youth unemployment.
While there is no single solution to this critical problem, Senator Sanders and I are leading a legislative effort to create career-building job opportunities for young people.
Our initiative, which was included as part of the immigration reform bill, recently passed the Senate. It will create and fund a national Youth Jobs Fund to provide young people with summer and year-round job opportunities. It will foster a partnership between the Department of Labor, states, and local communities in areas of high unemployment across the country to provide jobs to young people in emerging, in-demand occupations.
Michigan is number one in new, clean energy patents and Detroit is now home to the only satellite patent office in the country, the Elijah McCoy Patent and Trademark Office. However, one of the most common things I hear from businesses who are creating new innovative jobs is the challenge they have finding graduates with the right skills to match the needs of emerging high-tech industries. That means businesses are left with vacant job openings while youth remain unemployed.
The Youth Jobs Fund will help young people earn credentials or training certification so they will have a chance to learn the right skills to match the needs of those emerging high-tech industries.
The Youth Jobs Fund is similar to a successful youth employment initiative in the Recovery Act that I actively supported in 2009, which helped 7,000 young people find summer or year-round employment in Detroit. It spurred a public-private partnership that placed young people in innovative jobs in healthcare and clean energy. The Youth Jobs Fund will build on that success so more young Detroit workers have job opportunities in cutting-edge fields.
This is more important now than ever. With all of the serious challenges facing the city of Detroit, it is critical that the federal government do everything possible to help create opportunities and hope for the future for young people and our families. We must do everything we can to make sure our young workers are part of our economic comeback.
Establishing a national Youth Jobs Fund is critical to making that happen. Now it’s up to the U.S. House of Representatives to act as soon as possible so this important initiative can become law and our children can get the opportunities they need to be successful.
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, along with Dennis W. Archer, former Detroit mayor, announced at a news conference that the Dennis W. Archer Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation has distributed $1 million in scholarships.
When Archer completed his service as mayor and elected not to seek re-election, he used his remaining campaign funds, and funds donated by many generous businesses and individuals for charitable purposes, to support causes in Detroit. He subsequently established permanent endowments at the Community Foundation to support community development and youth activities and scholarships. To date, more than $1 million has gone nearly 200 minority students in Detroit and Cassopolis, Michigan, Archer’s hometown, to help them attend Wayne State University and his alma mater, Western Michigan University.
“Opportunity and education are the cornerstones for young people, especially for those born into circumstances where neither are plentiful, to rise above hardship and challenges,” said Archer. “Through the Dennis W. Archer Fund at the Community Foundation and our Archer Scholars program at Western Michigan University and Wayne State University, we help talented young people from Detroit and Cassopolis expand their potential for personal achievement and community enrichment. Today, we pause to celebrate the $1 million mark in scholarship awards. More importantly, we say thank you to all the contributors and congratulations to nearly 200 young people who are now building better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.”
In addition, Archer encouraged other civic leaders to join him in using their financial resources to perpetuate their own special legacies of service to Detroit through charitable giving.
“At the Community Foundation, we work with donors to make their charitable visions come true,” said Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “We have been honored to work with Dennis Archer to help improve the quality of life in our region and to help so many promising young people attend college and begin their careers.”
More than 1,000 funds have been established by civic-minded individuals, families and organizations at the Community Foundation since its inception in 1984. Permanent endowment funds like Archer’s provide a source of financial support to benefit charitable organizations in perpetuity.