Closing the Opportunity Divide

Like many Americans, I am outraged by the unjust killing of George Floyd. If you’re like me, then you’re probably wondering what you can do to help those that are truly vulnerable in this battle?

4 years ago

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Like many Americans, I am outraged by the unjust killing of George Floyd. It was a senseless and unwarranted use of force. Similarly, we had another recent senseless killing of an unarmed black man in Georgia – Ahmaud Arbery. The protests across the country have been justified. While I am fully supportive of the peaceful protests, I am not supportive of the rioters, looters, and criminal activity that has also come about. That said, I absolutely do not support the use of our military to combat US citizens. Military force should rarely, if ever, be used to fight against our own citizens. Even the suggestion of doing so is an assault on the US constitution and the principles of this great nation.

All that said, if you’re like me, then you’re probably wondering what you can do to help now. What can you do to help those that are truly vulnerable in this battle?

One suggestion is to support organizations that help less privileged individuals - one  such organization is Year Up.

Year Up is a non-profit organization that enables underrepresented young adults ages 18 – 24  to move from minimum wage to meaningful careers in just one year, by offering six months of technical and professional skills training followed by a six-month corporate internship. Year Up students have a high school diploma or GED but for various reasons have not yet obtained a college degree. Year Up provides an opportunity for these talented and motivated young adults to gain the skills, experience, and network to launch their careers.

Five million young adults in the U.S. do not have a stable career pathway to well-paid jobs. Meanwhile, 12 million jobs that require post-secondary education will go unfilled in the next decade. Year Up’s mission is to close and eliminate this gap.

In Atlanta, the majority of the Year Up students are from under-represented communities (82% black, 9% Latin decent) that, for one reason or another, have not had the opportunity to go to college. Now, they’re getting a chance to acquire the most in-demand skills training so that they too can have an opportunity to contribute, work, be successful and ultimately close the opportunity divide.

One of the reasons that I have been such a strong advocate of Year Up is that I truly believe the answer to many of the inequality issues of our time can be helped through education, skills training, and opportunity. Given an opportunity, people  of diverse and under represented backgrounds can embark on successful careers in business. If you want to learn more about Year Up and gain an understanding of  the students who go through this program, then watch this episode of Techrides, or read this recent New York Times Article.

If you want to truly help close the opportunity divide and continue to transform this country, then support Year Up and/or organizations like it.

Here are a couple of ways you can help right now:

Become a Corporate Partner – If you are a business  leader, and want to improve the diversity and equality in your work force while also gaining access to talented and motivated young people, consider taking in an intern or two and get these young people on their way. Learn more here.

Donate – Year Up needs financial assistance now more than ever. Like many people and businesses, they have been hurt by the COVID–19 shutdown. In Atlanta, the shutdown and resulting lost revenue has led to smaller student cohorts as well as layoffs of many long-serving and dedicated Year Up employees. If you want to give to Year Up and help them financially, click here.

The anger and response to the recent events is understandable. Now it’s time to do something to help bring about change. Lending your support to an organization such as Year Up is a great way to start.

Edwin Marcial

Published 4 years ago


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