Starting a Fire, Making Lasting Change

Learn more about SparkOpportunity

It is very easy to get overwhelmed by the economic problems facing today's young people. One in six people age 16 to 24 -- nearly 7 million in total -- are not in school and not employed. With the economy unstable (at best), debt spiraling all around (national, personal and student loan), and uncertainty abounding, the generation currently coming of age knows that nothing is promised.  But that does not mean that things cannot look promising.

Online journalism and advocacy center SparkAction knows this, and works to connect those working on child and youth issues with information, ideas and inspiration. In support of this goal, the organization has partnered with Bon Jovi--member of the White House Council for Community Solutions--the Youth Leadership Institute, and other organizations on the SparkOpportunity Challenge

The challenge is designed to spotlight and celebrate the best new ideas from young people for rebuilding pathways to jobs and education, using social media to spread the word. Young leaders are submitting their ideas now.  Online voting will run from May 15th through May 25th. The winners will receive iPads, start-up grants of $1,500, and mentoring from recognized business and policy leaders to see their ideas brought to life locally.

Alison Waldman of SparkAction nailed it when she explained to me why this type of challenge is so important right now:

...We want to emphasize the importance of bringing young people into the conversation about disconnected youth and the burden it can have on families and on the country as a whole. We know there are so many young people out there with fantastic ideas that could really work to help drive their peers to success in their communities, but they are rarely heard at a high level. 

It is time to listen.  Go to the SparkOpportunity website.   You will certainly be inspired, and you just might learn something.