Community Development

Rural America’s Long Road

October 1, 2018  • Institute Staff

In March, the Institute’s Community Strategies Group held its seventh public event in its America’s Rural Opportunity series, this time showcasing new data on “opportunity youth”—that is, young people ages 16 to 24 who are not employed or in school (see “Rural and Ready,” page 13). The event, held at the Institute’s new DC headquarters, featured rural American leaders who are linking youth to jobs, training, and education. The Community Strategies Group collaborated with two other programs to make the event a success: the Forum for Community Solutions and the Center for Native American Youth. Speakers affiliated with all three programs included Mable Starks, the president and CEO of MACE in Greenville, Mississippi; Deontay White, a Mississippi Action for Community Education YouthBuild graduate; Shawna Campbell-Daniels, the State Tribal Education Partnership manager in Idaho; and Karen Jacobson, the executive director of the Randolph County Housing Authority in West Virginia. The event explored ways to link young people to jobs in Appalachia, to empower youth in the Mississippi Delta, and to strengthen tribal education on the Coeur d’Alene reservation. At the end of the discussion, the audience and the more than 400 live-stream viewers were treated to an impromptu rendition of “Faith of the Heart,” a song YouthBuild’s White uses to inspire students: “It’s been a long road, getting there from here, but they aren’t going to hold me back no more.”