Guest blog post by Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jay Williams
We all face frustrations and challenges in our daily lives. Most of us are fortunate that our biggest complaint is often a bad day at our office job, the perils of DC traffic, or the fact that our DVR didn’t record the end of the game. It’s become a bit of a joke on social media with the advent of #FirstWorldProblems. Yet, there are many people living in the “First World” whose problems are much bigger than we realize.
Many young men of color in this country live in poverty. In fact, minority children are 6 to 9 times more likely to be raised in areas of concentrated poverty. For most living below the poverty line, this gap in wealth creates a gap in opportunities that only grows as these children enter adulthood. I was privileged to have been afforded many opportunities growing up in a middle class household, but I know many of the other young black men of Youngstown, my hometown, were not so fortunate. That's why the President's efforts to address this issue are so personal to me.
Last February, President Obama launched “My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.
I was honored to be invited to participate as an Ambassador for the MBK initiative and do my part to help achieve the program’s six main goals:
- Ensuring that all of our children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally prepared
- Ensuring that all of our children read at grade level by third grade
- Ensuring that all of our young people graduate from high school
- Ensuring that all of our young people complete post-secondary education or training
- Ensuring that all youth are employed out of school
- Ensuring that all of our young people are safe from violent crime
These goals are the backbone of a larger effort in which cities, towns, and Tribal Nations across America will take up the President’s call to improve outcomes for all young people in their communities, to create a society where nobody is left behind and where all children have opportunities to succeed. EDA’s work in distressed communities and Commerce’s commitment to helping promote and support workforce training supports these goals and helps to make them a reality.