YLI Youth Ambassadors Lead National Discussion on Engaging Opportunity Youth

June 22, 2012

More than 6.7 million youth in the U.S. are disconnected from school and employment. These “opportunity youth” represent a huge untapped resource for our communities and our nation. YLI is partnering with the White House Council for Community Solutions and other national organizations to forge new paths to education and employment for these youth.

On June 4, the Council hosted the White House Youth Summit on Disconnected Youth in Washington DC. YLI brought eleven youth to participate in this event. These youth are members of the YLI Youth Ambassadors, a leadership body YLI convened earlier this year to represent and advocate for youth on the national stage. As Ambassadors, these youth served leadership roles at the Summit, including speaking in panel discussions on youth engagement, and acting as respondents to other panel discussions.

One of the Youth Ambassadors, Ryan Dalton, was honored for submitting one of the eleven winning entries to the SparkOpportunity Challenge. Dalton wants to create educational and athletic camps for youth in underutilized parks in New Orleans’ 8th Ward to help reverse the effects of poverty and violence and keep youth on the path to success. Initiated by Spark Action and YLI as part of the Council’s call to engage opportunity youth, the SparkOpportunity Challenge asked young people to turn their ideas and experiences into concrete solutions. From hundreds of entries, eleven entries were chosen, including Ryan’s. The winners will receive start-up grants and opportunities to pitch their ideas to leading CEOs.

At the Summit, the Council released its final report and recommendations to the President. This report was informed by input from the Youth Ambassadors.  The Summit ended on a hopeful and forward-looking note about new collaborative efforts unfolding across the country to address the problems that America’s opportunity youth face. YLI will continue its leading role in this national effort by elevating the authentic voices of youth in the national discourse to help forge creative, effective solutions to the issues that disconnect youth from schools and careers.

Stay tuned for more about YLI’s work in this arena, including our efforts to expand the Ambassadors group to facilitate youth engagement at a movement building scale.

Learn more about the 2012 YLI youth ambassadors here.

This blog was originally published by the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) and is reprinted here with permission.