Youth-Led Recommendations to Increase Opportunity

January 1, 2013

The National Council of Young Leaders is a diverse body of young leaders from across the United States who advise policymakers and funders on issues affecting low-income youth and their communities.

"That is the America we aim to create in our lifetimes."

They represent the 6.7 million young Americans who are neither in school nor working, but who pose enormous potential for our economy and our future if they are provided the opportunity to get on track and get ahead. Council members hail from both urban and rural low-income areas and have overcome different kinds of obstacles, yet all have participated in transformative youth programs that helped them become the successful young adults they are today.

In the fall of 2012, the Council released its first publication, Recommendations to Increase Opportunity and Decrease Poverty in America. The report outlines specific actions that could help opportunity youth and their communities.

"We were offered wonderful opportunities by our sponsoring organizations to find our true hearts, our real selves, our talents, and our passion to make a difference through service to our communities," the young members write in the preface to the publication. "Each of us has experienced what a comprehensive program that provides education, employment, personal counseling, caring adult mentors and role models, a positive peer group, leadership opportunities, pathways to college and careers, and service to our communities can mean to a lost soul. We have experienced the amazing respect and love that come from staff in organizations that are based on a philosophy of recognizing our sacred value and seeing us as potential assets to the community rather than threats to it."

One of highlights of the publication is the Council’s six recommendations for Immediate Public Action:

  1. Expand effective comprehensive programs

  2. Expand national service

  3. Expand private internships

  4. Increase all forms of mentoring

  5. Protect and expand pathways to higher education

  6. Reform the criminal justice system

"We recognize the need for people of all backgrounds to come together, to work together to create a society in which it is recognized that all people are created equal, where there is liberty and freedom, opportunity and responsibility, justice and love, for all. That is the America we aim to create in our lifetimes," the members write.

The Council is sponsored by YouthBuild, Jobs for the Future, Public Allies, The Corps Network, Year Up and the Youth Leadership Institute, and endorsed by SparkAction and the Forum for Youth Investment.

Find out more about the Council, its work and these recommendations here.