Developing And Supporting The Region’s Diverse Youth

A group of diverse youth who represent the people at the Western Massachusetts Policy Center Think Tank

Even the decades before the pandemic saw tremendous change. In a single generation, a bachelor’s degree has gone from a hope-filled mechanism of upward mobility to a brutally expensive and often arbitrary credential that yields questionable return on economic investment – and even less on quality of life.

At the K-12 level, public schools are under constant attack manufactured by those who wish to privatize education for personal gain. Illogically, funding doesn’t follow need. Low pay, combined with insufficient resources and support, are forcing more teachers out of the profession than ever before.

Meanwhile, in higher education, more and more universities solicit corporate fundraising, treat their student-facing faculty and staff as expendable, and allow their missions to creep farther and farther away from education and training.

But, to be fair, higher education has never really been great at finding equitable ways to complement its academic preparation with practical skills training.

Inside their bodies, the pandemic caused many young people to miss social and developmental milestones, and mental health among young people is increasingly poor.

Outside their bodies, prices rise along with the wealth gap; climate change threatens our very existence; gun violence in schools has become an epidemic; and the nexus of political rancor and social media continues to erode society. Without accountability and real change, their future is increasingly bleak.

All of this means increased practical training; professional development; mental, physical and emotional health; and economic planning and support for the next generation is perhaps the underlying thread to all our most urgent policy priorities.

But, today’s youth need to be setting their own proactive, holistic policy priorities, rather than allowing the generations before them to continue to fail.

Our areas of current interest are:

  • DEI-focused education reform
  • Expanded vocational and professional training
  • Career planning programs
  • Early-Career workforce development
  • Expanded mentorship, sponsorship and coaching programs
  • Identifying and removing barriers to success
  • Youth-specific unemployment reform
  • Real-world financial literacy, planning and wealth generation strategies
  • Arts & Humanities-based alternatives to sports for team and discipline building

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