Wilson 20/20 plans to help youth
Jun 14, 2012 (The Wilson Daily Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Making sure young adults are ready for a career or work is the long-range goal of the Wilson 20/20 Education Workforce Council.
The council and members of the Wilson Youth Council and other community leaders took part in a planning and design meeting Wednesday that includes forming a Wilson-specific survey that identifies existing programs that help children and youth in their physical, educational and social development.
Larry Pasti with the Forum for Youth Investment, hired to help with the survey, shared some of the goals and highlights of the project. He also shared examples of larger-scale programs occurring in cities, including Atlanta and Richmond, Va.
"What we find is when you start this work, you find it's successful and you want to continue on," Pasti said. "It really does require a community effort."
Forum for Youth Investment, based in Washington, D.C., will conduct a community survey that seeks to identify barriers standing in the way of youth becoming employable by age 21. The organization's initiative is called Ready by 21.
The Education Workforce Council is interested in finding ways to reduce the number of people who are unemployed and to assist youth in being prepared for the workforce and a career.
The survey is expected to help in the formation of a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutual reinforcing activities, ongoing communication and backbone supports.
"What we need to understand is the survey is not an end all," said Tom Curran, Wilson 20/20 executive director.
The Wednesday meeting included input from more than half a dozen teens from the Wilson Youth Council as well as a representative from the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.
The survey will be sent to people who provide youth programs and services in the community and will seek to identify barriers that prevent youth from being prepared for the workforce. The project will explore barriers that exist from birth to age 21. The survey will also seek to identify current programs, the duplication of programs and any gaps in services or programs, Curran said.
The process is expected to take three to four months and the council will decide, after the results are in, the next step to assist Wilson youth.
Kelly Vick, the Wilson Housing Authority director of development and member of the Education Workforce Council, said the project will benefit the work the housing authority provides to its public housing residents.
"This goes hand-in-hand with the Choice Neighborhood initiative grant we're (seeking)," to rebuild Whitfield Homes, Vick said. "It's also good to learn about other programs."
The housing authority also has programs that support education and seek to reduce the unemployment rate, he said.
Martha Vick, executive director of the Wilson Education Partnership, also believes the project will help to better connect community organizations that serve children and youth.
"I'm optimistic that it's going to get us to the next step where we want to go," said Vick, also a member of the Education Workforce Council. "It's not going to get us 100 percent of where we want to be but if it helps us get closer, it's worth it."
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