We issued an Equity statement in June 2020, affirming our organization’s commitment to racial equity. Youth Solutions, Inc. was far from alone in putting forward a public condemnation of racism and discrimination with a commitment to action in support of an equal and great future for all. At Youth Solutions, supporting equity is at the core of what we do as 64% of the young people under our care identify as a racial minority.
In recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we are reflecting on the importance of action that Dr. King encouraged: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” While always a work in progress, here are some of the ways we have moved forward to further embed our commitment to equity for Michigan’s young people into all we do:
Worked with the philanthropic community to envision an equitable opportunity for the workforce program geared towards progressive engagement with private sector culminating in mentorship, apprenticeships, and employment.
Held four “Coffee with a Purpose” sessions with 11 youth and alumni panelists speaking to over 300 adults on topics ranging from racial equity to the impact of COVID-19. Videos of the powerful three-part series on racial equity can be found here.
Hired two dynamic alumni interns – Tekeidra Masters and Nolan Henson – to lead a range of efforts within our organization. Tekeidra and Nolan have become invaluable voices on our team and are engaged in every critical decision made that impacts our young people.
Launched the “Youth Advisory Council,” comprised of active and alumni youth interested in elevating their voices to guide the future of our programming.
Applied a youth lens to all initiatives, identifying the young person as the customer of all services and ensuring their voices, opinions, and interests remain in the foreground of our decision making.
Revised our organizational vision and mission with a youth-focused purpose statement, “inspiring youth to achieve a future beyond imagine.”
Posted a new Alumni Engagement Manager role to build a robust alumni network of vocal youth advocates and engaged ambassadors, dedicated to amplifying the youth voice within education and the workforce.
Launched a community-level project focused on Benton Harbor with a big idea to improve young lives by creating education, employment, and career opportunities for all Benton Harbor area youth.
Also, we are proud to say that over 30% of our Board of Directors are individuals who identify as a racial minority. We are energized by the substantive changes our organization and staff leadership have made in the six months since releasing our equity statement. We have a deep responsibility to do our best in creating a more equitable world and we take this responsibility seriously.
We will never be finished moving forward.
The Youth Solutions Team