Unemployment. Inequality. Global warming. The youth of today face a bleak future thinks Chip Flowers — from economic meltdowns and political problems to environmental crises and social conflicts. They’re victims of messes created before their time, but they will be the ones responsible for cleaning them up. The five organizations below are providing future generations with the tools to overcome today’s worsening issues. With their help and help from similar organizations—there’s hope.
Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (TLT)
This California-based organization teaches area high school juniors that they can become leaders, as well as productive members of their community, through TLT’s programs in leadership, career readiness and community participation.
Teens learn about local businesses, government and nonprofits by exploring how their city operates. In the Career Readiness Program, they are taught the crucial skills needed to succeed in a 21st century workplace. The Youth Empowerment Council provides an avenue for youth to be involved in local government, as well as giving them an opportunity to teach elementary and middle school students about civil engagement.
An impressive 90 percent of TLT’s graduates go on to college, and 75 percent of them go on to volunteer in their communities.
Girls For A Change (GFC)
GFC is an international organization that empowers girls to create change through connecting with adult women coaches. This organization gives young women the confidence to speak up, realize their full potential, become leaders and make a real difference.
The Girl Action Teams are free after-school programs, often in low-income communities, where approximately 10 girls and two coaches meet to tackle issues faced in their community, as well as design, fund and implement solutions to these problems. Some examples of these projects include organizing a rally to end sexual assault and violence against women, creating a public service announcement against child abuse, and raising awareness and providing resources for immigrant education.
The traveling Change Your World Trainings teaches over 2,500 girls per year what social change really is, while providing examples from a diverse group of leaders.
Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA)
The EYA believes that “the environment is at the core of everything we are and everything we do.” This Vancouver-based non-profit charity has been connecting urban youth since 1991 to the magic of the natural world, while fostering community and building leadership skills.
The EYA accomplishes its mission through food gardening, pollinator awareness, urban forest skill building, horticulture therapy and nature observation programs. Through educational programming, children are given the opportunity to connect with nature through sight, touch and taste.
One of the programs takes place at the BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital, where a tucked away garden is having a positive and therapeutic effect on the health of patients. Patients and their families have gardened and harvested fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
The Power of Hope (POH)
One way to spread a message of change is through art. You cannot discount art’s ability to enrich lives and give children an outlet to express themselves.
POH helps empower teens from diverse cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds through their art camps, retreats and workshops. POH’s learning programs take many forms, but they all value self-awareness, leadership, community and social change.
Teens age 14 to 18 can participate in summer camp, where artists and activists teach how to make a difference in the world. The Art of Leadership program is a leadership training program focused on leading groups and organizing events using the arts. During a five-day retreat, Hip Hop Hope brings youth together to collaborate on an inspiring hip-hop CD and have their voices heard.
Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF)
We live in a global, digital age, and technology will only become more important in the future, being employed to solve many problems. YTF is an international nonprofit that brings education, training and technology to youth in low-income U.S. communities, as well as developing nations.
YTF Academy is comprised of four programs—Tech Kids, Tech Teens, Tech Communities and Tech Enhancements. These programs emphasize participation, creativity, and developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. Over 1.4 million people have benefited from YTF. The businesses started by youth and women who completed the YFT Academy courses help sustain local economies.