At the Clinton Global Initiative America Meeting this past June, my organization, Benevolent, took its first decisive step into the youth re-engagement movement, which focuses on expanding education and career pathways for the 5.8 million youth nationally who are currently out of work and not in school. Benevolent is committing to expand our network to youth-serving organizations across the country by using a crowd-giving model to invite everyday donors to step in and help low-income individuals overcome identified hurdles. One-time expenses like car repairs, basic furniture, a laptop for school, or the proper equipment for a new job can be insurmountable barriers in reaching self-determined goals and eclipsing poverty. Benevolent aims to help eliminate these barriers.
I arrived in Denver with the goal of inviting as many as 15 national youth-serving organizations to join our 2014 Commitment to Action, “An Alternate Funding Stream to Help Youth Reach Their Goals.” Through this commitment, we aim to bring the support of 5,000 Benevolent donors to the aid of 500 young adults who face singular challenges on the path toward education, employment, and stability. I sought organizations that provide case management, educational programming, and career readiness services to young adults. As partners, these organizations will post their client’s stories and challenges to the Benevolent website and once funds are raised, Benevolent will grant the funds to the partner organization to meet the needs of their clients—whether by buying the needed laptop, paying the crucial security deposit, or purchasing the needed transit pass.
Image Credit: Benevolent
Charged and excited, I joined the CGI America Reconnecting Youth Working Group to forge new paths and build supports and infrastructure to help America’s youth thrive. Our group was a flurry of connection, conversation, and partnership. We had the amazing opportunity to hear directly from a young man who had fallen away from stability when tragedy struck his family. Disconnected from school and work, with less family support than ever, this young man found himself at the crossroad of sustainability and instability. With the right help, he moved his life from directionless to focused. Our group was inspired and impressed.
I chose to participate in the Reconnecting Youth Working Group precisely because of its consideration of the whole person. Our group approached the issues of our country’s youth and the barriers they face as complex and multifaceted. We shared frustrations and ideas, resources and guidance. By the end of our time together we had forged partnerships, given creative input, and improved upon our ideas and approaches.
Photo Credit: Alison Hathaway / Clinton Global Initiative
At the close of CGI America 2014, I was both shocked and pleased to find that in just two days Benevolent had made significant progress on our commitment, formally agreeing to partnerships with seven organizations and beginning conversations with at least 10 others. Thanks to the rich collaboration fostered in our Working Group, we left Denver with plans to work with a variety of partner organizations, including Gateway to College, the Latin American Youth Center, and YouthBuild—among others—to publish and promote inspiring stories and challenges of youth on our website and across traditional and social media platforms. In addition, we’ll continue to reach out to Benevolent’s caring donors and will work with brands and companies to connect with new sources of support. These new partnerships will be crucial in helping hundreds of young adults over the one-time hurdles that might otherwise derail their progress.
In June of 2014, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton hosted the fourth meeting of CGI America, an annual event focused on finding solutions that promote economic recovery in the United States. For more information, visit cgiamerica.org.