The Power of Ten
Building on an initiative such as Americorps, and the observation behind the work of The Posse Foundation, "The Power of Ten", is a program which will create an ecosystem in which youth are joined together in groups, teams, pods, posses, as a vehicle to create connections leading to peer to peer support, as they navigate the path to employment. These connections will be the foundation of a network which will expand exponentially as each individual in the group shares their own network with each other.
The ecosystem will function to provide a space for youth to develop work skills, be exposed to career options, meet with mentors, receive training in job hunting, resume writing and interview skills - peer to peer and via facilitators, and to be reflective through a variety of creative activities. The ecosystem will be a foundation for all of these programmatic elements as it provides employment itself within a particular industry, in the case of a pilot program, the health field. The idea is not to gear youth to work in this field, although that may be one outcome. Rather the idea for this pilot is to provide work experience in an industry which can expose youth to opportunities in which they can develop their skillset as it relates to employment in general - professionalism, interacting with others, taking direction, problem solving, critical thinking, organizational skills, responsibility etc. These are skills that are critical for employment in any field.
There is no professional skill requirement to enter this program. One is not expected to be a health care worker to join. The program will be a one to two year commitment.
Why Health Care for the Pilot Project?
US News and World Report - 100 Best Jobs 2014 - According to this report more than 1/3 of these jobs are within the healthcare field. Many others are associated with health care. For example clerical workers, web developers, data analysts and fitness workers all support health care. Hence this ecosystem is one in which youth can be exposed to many viable employment options, as they gain general skills applicable to employment in any field, and as they develop their networks which will be key to opening doors for possible jobs going forward. Also educational requirements for jobs on this list are broad opening up this industry to the full spectrum of unemployed youth.
Americorp has a successful community health care program in place which serves underserved communities across the USA. This may be a possible program to build onto.
Health care as a model has the potential to scale to communities in other countries. There are models in place in the developing world in which workers are trained in community health. They care for the sick in remote and underserved communities. Might the millions of unemployed youth in other parts of the world participate in further developing these programs, utilizing their creativity and entrepreneurial talents, on their path to employment? Can this serve as an opportunity for these youth much as I describe for youth in America above? Can a young workforce also provide a much needed service in their local communities?
Where will the pilot be developed and why?
I envision the pilot being developed in a low income urban community which can benefit from this program in multiple ways. Local youth who lack connections, often important on the path to employment, will benefit greatly from participating in a program that emphasizes network building. I envision the youth corp to be a combination of local youth and youth from other communities in an effort to create connections beyond one's base, and to provide cross cultural experiences enhancing one's skillset, as youth learn to work with, and in the service of, folk of diverse backgrounds. Citizens in these communities can benefit greatly from a corp of young workers engaged in community health programming. There is the possibility here for community engagement and creative programming that will enrich the work experiences of youth and benefit the local community.
1 - Networks will develop between individuals in each group and between groups.
2 - There will be opportunities for youth to develop their entrepreneurial skills, form teams and develop their own projects. As youth engage in their community work they will be tasked to look, listen and identify problems that need solutions. They will be given the freedom once or twice a month to meet and brainstorm around these problems. Community engagement will be encouraged.
Hackathons will be a tool used to generate and collaborate around ideas. Community members will be invited to participate. Possible seeds for new business development?
3 - Improv workshops will be held as a means to develop interview skills.
4 - There will be workshops on financial literacy. Making a budget and the value of saving will be discussed. How a retirement plan works and the tax advantages will be discussed. Many co workers that I know do not take advantage of this opportunity because they do not fully understand it. It will be great to start this conversation with youth when they start their working lives. Saving will be especially important when working in an economy where there is job instability.
5 - Youth can choose to work as health mentors for seniors within the community. This will be one possible employment path within this program.
Questions For The Community:
1 - What is your feeling about mixing the groups of 10 between high school grads and college students/college grads? Do you think this will enrich their experiences, detract from them? What they have in common is they are on the same path - to employment.
2- What other programs exist that this might be built onto?
3 - Any Americorp workers on the platform? What is your sense of this idea? Does Americorp currently have a job search training component?