The Opportunity Movement

Devoted to closing the Opportunity Divide

Reflections

The following is a memo I shared with staff at Year Up this week as we continue to process recent events.

Dear Year Up,

Over the last week, many of you have expressed deep concern over the trial of George Zimmerman and the killing of Trayvon Martin. The verdict in this case has affected us all and raised many more questions than it has provided answers. I want to acknowledge the confusion and frustration that so many of our staff and students are feeling at this moment.  An innocent youth was shot and killed, and that constitutes a tragedy beyond words. As a parent, I was deeply saddened by the death of Trayvon. No parent should ever have to endure the loss of a child and my heart goes out to both Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. As I have listened to the TV and radio and read the newspapers and blogs over the past few days, I have tried to derive meaning from what happened and am left at a loss. I don’t claim to know all of the facts and arguments presented in the case, and sadly I don’t think anyone will ever know what really happened on the day that Trayvon Martin was killed. However, I am clear about a few things:

  • Being found not guilty does not mean you are innocent. According to our system of law, the prosecution could not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and that is why a verdict of not guilty was reached. However, it is hard to say that justice is served when an unarmed teenager is killed and no one is held accountable. Rather, it is deeply sad and my heart goes out to the family and friends of Trayvon Martin.
  • Racial profiling and stereotyping affects our youth in profound ways. Trayvon Martin would be alive today had he not been pursued by someone who assumed the worst in large part because of his age, dress and skin color. We work each day at Year Up to change the perception that others have of our young adults. It is part of our strategy to close the Opportunity Divide. Trayvon Martin was perceived a certain way and that contributed to his death. The specifics of what happened that night will never be known, although I am certain the situation would have been different had be not been perceived that way.
  • Systems change is critical to our mission and our country.  There were several systems that failed Trayvon Martin and contributed to his death, including our gun laws, self-defense laws and judicial process.  These systems affect all of us, and in many cases they disproportionately affect the young adults that we serve.  That is why we work each day to not only “bridge” the Opportunity Divide but to “close” it.  Changing systems starts with changing perceptions, something our students do each day as they navigate L&D, internships, careers and communities.  They are at the forefront of this perception change and we both honor and support their journey. I am proud of our organization for leading the charge to create the nation’s first ever Ad Council campaign to provide opportunities for the employer public to engage with Opportunity Youth, and in so doing to change perceptions about the population of young adults we serve.
  • Teaching our students to talk about this is a teachable moment. Our students are asking about this event, and looking to us for guidance, but may be struggling to find a safe space to do so. Year Up is and will continue to be that safe space.  At this moment, we as servant leaders should be asking: What can we do to ensure that they engage in this dialogue in a way that does not put our young adults at a disadvantage? What can we do this week to create a safe space to listen, learn together and provide perspective and guidance?  I know Executive Directors and their collective teams have given a great deal of thought about the shape of those discussions with young adults. I would encourage us to make sure our students leave those discussions empowered, knowing that they collectively are supported, always have a safe space at Year Up to voice their desires and frustrations, and already possess the grit and determination to name racism, sexism, or any form of discrimination and be heard by caring staff.
  • Our work around Diversity and Cultural Competency is critical to Year Up’s mission. We have learned about different forms of bias that exist in each one of us, much of it implicit. We have worked hard to be thoughtful about both the historical and current issues that have led to the Opportunity Divide. And, we have developed trust and respect for the many different voices that collectively make up our organization. We have a responsibility to teach others and to engage in thoughtful dialogue, and I hope you will have a chance to do this.

In closing, I am hopeful that we can in some way learn from this tragedy, and that young Trayvon’s death will not be entirely in vain. The Year Up community is part of that process and I am honored to be one with you on this long journey towards greater social and economic justice.

Be well,
Gerald

With a window of opportunity, what country do we want to build?

Now that the election is over, we have an opportunity to come together as a country on an idea that is distinctly not political: getting Americans back to work.  Above all else, I’m feeling optimistic that now, we can do it.

Part of my optimism stems from seeing the 80 CEOs who recently came together to urge Washington to do what is necessary to avoid the fiscal cliff.  What’s to stop a similar group of business leaders from coming together to support solving another national crisis: the growing Opportunity Divide in this country?

Part of it is timing.  Across the country, we are moving closer to broad recognition that growing inequality of income and, more importantly, of wealth, hurts everyone.  The growing skills gap hurts our economy and demands an effort to rethink our approach to preparing young people to enter the workforce.  At the same time, online courses like MOOCs are transforming higher education from the university model to an aggregate model, which has the potential to truly democratize education by making it affordable for all.  Though the transition is just beginning and will surely involve some speed bumps, that’s something that no one has been able to do up to this point. 

We have an opportunity to make sure that our practices and policies do not divide us into two Americas – one America where opportunity abounds and another one where it is nonexistent.

The only question is, what is the country that we want to build? 

I am hopeful that we’ll build a country that sees the potential inherent in all of our young people, not just the ones born in the right zip codes or with the right amount of money in their parents’ bank accounts. 

Imagine how things could be different if all young adults had affordable access to higher education after completing high school, and if hiring managers recognized their potential and the credentials from their online courses as legitimate preparation for entry-level jobs that would help them build careers.  We know what young people can accomplish with that kind of opportunity, along with the right support, because we see them do it every day at Year Up, and it could power our economy and our country.

I’m thankful to work in an organization full of individuals who are fueled by the success and passion of these young people.  I’m hopeful that, with this window of opportunity, we will build a country that sees their potential and makes sure they have the opportunity to realize it.

To Create Jobs, Create a Skilled Workforce

This week I had the opportunity to share my thoughts with Big Ideas for Jobs, a research project promoting practical, sustainable, and scalable job creation ideas. Here’s what I had to say; you can also read the original post on the Big Ideas for Jobs website.

Each year, millions of jobs are created for workers with the right skills to fill them. These jobs are permanent, family-sustaining and unlikely to be outsourced. While it’s important to talk about “creating” new jobs within our nation, it’s also crucial that we fill the ones that already exist. The skills that these jobs require will be in-demand by employers long after any short-term job-creation program comes to a halt.

Even amidst high unemployment, our economy is suffering from an increasing shortage of skilled workers. 30 percent of all U.S. employers had vacancies that remained open for at least six months in 2011, despite an unemployment rate that exceeded 9 percent. To simply stop the skills gap from growing wider, we will need to produce 22 million new workers with post-secondary credentials – not necessarily a four-year degree, but some sort of training beyond high school – by 2018. At the present rate of growth, we will fall short of that number by at least three million.

It’s little wonder why: America’s one-year certificate programs (on average) graduate less than one third of their students within two years. The consequences of the divide between our students and our employers are dire. More than 6.7 million young people in this country are out of school and out of work, and together they will cost our economy more than $437 billion over the next five years, further straining our budget deficits and diverting money from other investments that promote growth in our economy.

We as a country can do something about this. Some of the most innovative community colleges and workforce training programs in the market today work closely with local employers to identify current and future positions of need. They then use their resources to offer targeted training to help prepare students for immediately available jobs.

This is what we do at my organization, Year Up. Each year we train over one thousand eager young people from the wrong side of what we call the “Opportunity Divide,” and then introduce them to businesses with jobs to fill. Our outcomes are not only impressive, but proven: More than 84 percent of our graduates are employed or in college full-time within four months of graduation, and those working earn an average wage of $15/hour ($30,000/year for salaried employees). Aside from helping U.S. companies grow, these young adults become experienced, valuable professionals. And our students’ success is contagious; not only do they become new role models and sources of inspiration to their peers, but local businesses can benefit directly from the increased purchasing power they bring back to their neighborhoods.

Just imagine the impact we could have by bringing our young people and our businesses together on a larger scale. They could power the economy for decades to come, and create millions of quality jobs in the process.

Rather than merely seeking to create new, low-skilled jobs, we need to create a sustainable education and workforce training system that prepares young people to fill the high-quality jobs that are being created every day. That’s not a partisan idea – it’s what our businesses and our young people need.

Get out and VOTE

Anastasia YoungToday’s update comes from Anastasia Young. Anastasia grew up on the south side of Chicago, and is now a Year Up Chicago student. She is interning with Human Resources at UBS.

“Get out and vote!” I used to hear this time and time again over the years, and I could never understand why. That is, until I decided to educate myself. I researched different politicians and issues that we as a people face in this country. I wanted to know what I could do to help. I learned that I could cast my vote.

I’ve always been the type of person to say that things need to change. What I realized is that if you want to create change, you have to take action. The people you elect are representing YOU. You not only have to vote, but you have to follow through.  Here in Chicago, I wrote a letter to my alderman expressing my concerns about the lack of workforce programs in our area. I never expected to get a reply from the alderman’s office, let alone a summary of actions being taken to rectify this issue, but I did. I realized then that I was being represented in the best way.

By voting in this election, I plan to tell the politicians in office that they need to make sure young adults who don’t come from wealthy backgrounds still have a chance. Education is on the top of my priority list, and this is my chance to tell these officials that they need to fully address this issue.

Issues relevant to us as young adults are constantly being discussed during election debates and fundraisers. Pell grants and government assistance for college are at stake.  There are so many decisions to be made in the next four years that will directly affect our lives and futures, and how tragic would it be if those decisions were made without any input from us, when we’ll live with their consequences?

Whatever you think needs to happen in order for you and your children to be able to have great futures, you must vote for those who will fight for these changes. Voting is caring about what’s going on in our very own lives.

In this election season, I encourage you to educate yourself. Research the candidates. Watch the debates and public speeches that they give.  This is a wonderful opportunity to become educated about the issues we face today, and the issues that we will face in the future.  Although the presidential election is extremely important, don’t lose sight of the elections that are so very close to home. Aldermen, congressmen and various forms of city council representatives count just as much.

There are about 45 million young people in this country who can cast their votes. That’s a lot of power.  So, what are we waiting for?

You can register to vote today through Year Up’s TurboVote or through Rock the Vote.

Leading a legacy of change: Reflecting on the first Year Up Alumni Summit

Shanique Davis

Today’s update comes from Shanique Davis, a member of Year Up’s National Board and a Year Up National Capital Region alumna.  Shanique, along with National Board Member and Year Up Boston alumnus Greg Walton, led the organization of our first ever Year Up Alumni Summit, which took place in Washington, DC last week.

Last week, my colleague Greg Walton and I hosted 150 Year Up Alumni from across the U.S. at our very first Year Up Alumni Summit. Centered on “Leading a Legacy of Change, we hoped to build a rapport between alumni in different cities; to show that, as alumni, we can be even more of an asset to not only Year Up, but the world; and to share our knowledge and eagerness to pay forward the opportunities we’ve had while continuing to establish ourselves as young professionals. It was truly a sight to see, and the impact on those of us in attendance was even bigger than what we could have ever expected.

Throughout the events – an inspirational dinner with Daniel Beatty, dinner discussions reflecting on ourselves before and after Year Up, and several sessions focused on how we alumni are serving our communities and how we can continue to progress professionally – the connections we made were phenomenal.  I instantly felt like I was among family, just as I did at Year Up National Capital Region when I was going through the program.  It was deeply powerful and inspiring to meet so many other people with experiences similar to mine – and who shared the same passionate desire to lead change in our communities.

Year Up Alumni Summit

Our main purpose was to lead by example and show what “Leading a Legacy of Change” looked like in reality. A few alumni who attended, thinking they weren’t doing enough to make a difference, did not realize how much they have done so far and are continuing to do. We learned that we even have some who have started their own programs, such as MentorCorps, a mentoring program in Boston lead by alumnus Kern Williams. Talk about leading a legacy – this is definitely evidence of true alumni strength! Alumnus Ky Smith of Baltimore summed it up best when he told us: We are economic assets to our country.

I quote Michelangelo in saying, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim was too high and we missed it, but that it was too low and we reached it.” It sometimes takes moments like these for us to realize anything is possible when we put our minds to it.

Shanique and Greg with Gerald Chertavian, Founder and CEO of Year Up  Alumni Summit 2

This Alumni Summit showed us that we are a family, with the same purpose in life: to be a better person, change the way society looks at us as a whole, and set that foundation for a better future for our kids. In moving forward from this event and its knowledge, I know that more alumni will continue to lead their own legacy of change and share what they experienced here with others, so that we can impact even more young adults. With the unveiling of our new site legacyofchange.org, we are now able not just to tell, but to show how we are doing this. We can do more, and we can make our voices heard and our actions seen when advancing opportunity.

For alumni, whether or not you attended the summit, please get involved. Reach out to your fellow graduates and continue to be a part of this movement that is bigger than us all. We can make tomorrow a whole new day of change, and a step toward our future. As Ky said, we are economic assets to our country, and we have the power to change it.

We are very grateful to Microsoft and Southwest Airlines for making this gathering possible.

 

Business, community, and government leaders are coming together to create real opportunities for young adults

On July 23rd we at Year Up launched a book, A Year Up (now a New York Times best seller), which shares some of the powerful transformations we’ve seen take place when urban young adults gain access to opportunity.  We launched this book intending to spark discussion about and solutions to the Opportunity Divide, and the response I’ve seen during the past two weeks has inspired tremendous optimism in our ability to resolve this crisis as a nation.

Changing the game for our young adults, for our economy, and for our country as a whole will require a movement powered by Americans from all corners.  At book signings, on Facebook, and at the Year Up graduations (which are taking place across the country this week), I am seeing this movement grow and take shape.  In the room are many people who represent their businesses, many of which are Fortune 500 companies already relying on Year Up interns as a source of talent, interested in learning how they can do more to support access to opportunity for young adults.  In the same room are people working at alternative schools, foster youth programs, and many other organizations dedicated to improving the lives of those born on the wrong side of the Opportunity Divide.  Also present, of course, are Year Up students and alumni, who are becoming leaders of this movement and who show us every day what is possible when talented young adults have the skills, experience, and support they need to reach their full potential – no matter what their backgrounds.

All of these people are expressing the same conviction: that greater access to opportunity is needed for our urban young adults to build careers and become economically self-sufficient.  What is especially striking is that they are expressing this conviction together, along with an interest in taking action.

At one Year Up graduation in Washington, DC, I met Scott Mills, President and COO of BET, who joined a large immigrant family from Cameroon in the room to support their oldest daughter, Christabel, graduating from the program that day.  Christabel told me, “I didn’t want to be locked out of this technology world.  I wanted to figure it out; I needed access.”  Think how many more young adults can gain that access with the combined efforts of our business, community, and government leaders.

Bringing these leaders together is critical.  Government alone is not going to solve this problem, and without action from the private sector, we will see the Opportunity Divide grow at an even more alarming rate – and we already have 6.7 million disconnected young adults in this country.  These same young adults could be, and are becoming, a new source of talent for American companies, powering our economy and propelling our country into a new wave of prosperity.  Seeing the uniting of the business and community forces this week and the enthusiastic support of our young adults they share, I’m convinced that these leaders see in this not just an American challenge, but an American opportunity.  I am confident that, united, we can take this opportunity and renew the promise of the American Dream.

 

Introducing A Year Up

A Year UpI’m excited to introduce my new book, A Year Up, which is available in stores and online today.

This book centers on something that all of us have had: a “year up.”  A person who believed in you when others didn’t, who opened a door for you so that you could start the next chapter in your life.  An opportunity that empowered you to reach your full potential.  A Year Up is about the powerful transformations made possible when talented young people are provided with this kind of opportunity.  Following a Year Up class from admissions to graduation, the book lets students share—in their own words—the challenges, failures, and personal successes they’ve experienced during their program year.  I also explain my philosophy and the development of the program, which I believe offers a road map for real change in our country.

Ultimately, A Year Up is about all of us—and the need to empower the next generation to fuel America’s prosperity in the 21st century.   My hope is that it will raise awareness of and inspire more solutions to the Opportunity Divide in this country.

Without further ado, I’d like to share an excerpt from the second chapter for those interested in getting a sense of how it reads.  Quick context: in this excerpt, Malik shares his story with his new classmates during a group activity in their first week at Year Up.  To learn more about the book and to purchase a copy, please visit www.yearupbook.com.

Malik, an energetic, somewhat fidgety eighteen-year-old, loped up to the front and pointed out his own entries on the chart. They were easy to find; he had chosen a neon green marker. He pointed to his notation for 2006: “Brother killed.”

“I was at my eighth- grade prom. That’s when I got the news. I had just got my dance on. The next day was graduation. And I was prom king. My brother Amadou* came into the dance. He told me the news, that our older brother Bakary* was dead. At that time my mind was almost blank. I went back to my home and I could see everybody crying and everything, but I still couldn’t believe it. I knew my brother was in the streets and all, but it didn’t sink in.

“Then they were telling me how he died. They said that he got set up. He was strangled. They stuffed his body in a trunk, drove it to a Dumpster, and wrapped him in a trash bag. They put him in the Dumpster and set it on fire. And that’s when it clicked— those details— and I’m like, ‘Nah, you’re not serious.’ Then they told me the people that did it. We’re all in the same project.

“So the day after, I went to the spot where they all hang out. My friend gave me a gun. He didn’t even give it to me; I got it from him forcefully. I went to that block and I didn’t see anybody. So I was like, ‘Wow, either it wasn’t meant for it to happen or . . . something.’ Because I know if any one of them was out there, something bad would have happened. I would have tried to get revenge— that was my mind-set.

“My mother. Oh, it was bad, bad. My mother had the call, she was at the morgue or wherever you go, to identify the body. I didn’t see her that whole night. The next day, you could tell something just broke. I never seen her like that. She’s a strong woman, but when I seen her like that, real sad, cryin’ her eyes out . . . The next day was my graduation and she didn’t come. It was too much for her.

“I had a focused mind- set once I finished eighth grade ’cause I barely made it out. I knew my other option was if I don’t get my stuff together, I’m going to be in the streets— like Bakary. And being in the streets would just put more worries on my mother. That’s when I knew I just had to get myself together. I felt the only way I could really make her feel happy again or have some type of joy is by me focusing, not being in the streets, just trying to get my schoolwork together. That was my battle. I was going to graduate high school for my mother. I could not take the sadness in her face. No.”

There were some stifled sobs in the room, mainly from the mothers on the staff. Charmaine fanned herself with her hand. Tissues bloomed. One young woman hurried out into the hallway, whispering, “It’s too close, too close for me.” Other students urged Malik to keep going.

“That’s all right. You tell it.”

“My brother was in the streets and it killed him,” Malik went on. “And I seen that everybody my brother was hanging around with, they all was getting locked up and everything. I knew that I had to have another option.”

Malik threw his arms wide and grinned.

“So I’m here now. We’re all here. Let’s do this!”

–A Year Up: How a Pioneering Program Teaches Young Adults Real Skills for Real Jobs with Real Success

Immigration relief: The right thing is also the smart thing

It’s not always the case that doing what’s right is also doing what’s smart, but when it is, the question of “what to do” should be pretty simple. That’s the case with reducing uncertainty for immigrants who are working to contribute to American society, and that’s why I fully support the Obama administration’s new policy of granting administrative relief to certain young immigrants.

Here’s why it’s the right thing to do. For the young people eligible for relief under the new policy, America is the only home they have ever known. Their whole lives are here, and returning to their countries of origin, where they have few connections and often don’t even speak the language, makes little sense for them.

Here’s why it’s the smart thing to do. Our young immigrants have a lot to offer. They are motivated and hard-working, and in many cases have already contributed significantly to our society – by excelling in school, by volunteering in their communities, or by serving in the military. We may have high unemployment, but we also have growing numbers of job openings, already in the millions, that remain unfilled because companies can’t find the right workers. In many cases, the young people offered relief by this new policy are exactly the workers we most need. The bottom line is that it’s a smart move for our economy to keep them here.

We at Year Up are all too familiar with the lose-lose situation that results from deporting people unnecessarily , and in reading about the administration’s new policy the story of one student from our first classes in Boston springs to mind. This student was brought to the US from Colombia as a young child and he and his family were granted political asylum. While their case went through the courts, he grew up in Boston, attended public school, worked hard, met his future wife, and had a child of his own. I remember conducting his admissions interview and learning that he had supported himself through high school by working at Starbucks. He was a star in our program and everyone from our instructors to his supervisors at a major financial institution was impressed by his talent and work ethic. He would undoubtedly have been hired if not for the uncertainty around his immigration status. Shortly after graduation (at which he was the graduation speaker), the courts summarily dismissed the political asylum case (along with thousands of others in a post 9/11 knee jerk reaction), and instead of gaining the full-time employment he had earned, he went underground – working odd jobs off the books to support his child. He did, eventually, get caught, and was placed in an immigration detention center before being sent back to Colombia, thousands of miles from his family and community.

Would you consider it a wise move for our country to send a smart, motivated person like that away when our companies are clamoring for more talent like his – and his specifically? For whom exactly is justice being served there?

As I said, this young man was really talented, and of course he landed on his feet in Colombia and has continued to excel there. But he lost his family in the process, and while he began contributing to the Colombian economy, the financial institution that would have hired him had to look for someone to fill his place. With the new policy set forth by the Obama administration, and hopefully with more permanent action by Congress, we will retain such productive members of society going forward, and in doing so give new hope to these young people and to our economy.

16% vs 84%

The numbers are shocking.  A study highlighted in the New York Times this week revealed that only 16% of recent high school graduates not enrolled in college are working full-time.  An additional 22% are working part-time (often because they can’t find full-time work) and most believed they would be unable to get good jobs without further education, inaccessible for many.

Where does that leave us?  It leaves us with an unforgivably high percentage of young adults who lack a path to economic self-sufficiency, and whose talent is going to waste.  And with such low odds for this generation of young people, the message to the next generation is clear: if you don’t plan – or can’t afford – to go to college after high school, don’t expect much for yourself.

This wasted potential seems especially frustrating when you consider how avoidable it is.  There are many jobs in this country that do not require four-year college degrees, and many that require them even though they are unnecessary.  With some additional training, through a vocational program or through an employer, many of these young adults could not only fill those jobs, but excel in them.

Take, as an example, Samantha Lewis, a graduate of Year Up Bay Area.  Before she started the program, Samantha, a 22-year-old high school graduate with no college degree, was unemployed and homeless.  Her talent and hard work during the program ultimately earned her a permanent position at Wells Fargo – a position for which her supervisor had previously been seeking a candidate with a college degree and 10 years of experience. 

Compare the 16% in the New York Times with the 84% of Year Up graduates (also high school graduates without college degrees) employed or attending college full-time within 4 months of completing the program.  The second number should show you that these young adults have the talent and motivation to succeed in the workplace and build meaningful careers.  What they lack is the opportunity to do so.  It is critical that we make these opportunities accessible to them – for these young adults, these companies, and our nation as a whole. 

Peter Drucker was right about higher education

60%. That’s the percentage of German high school graduates who choose vocational over academic education.  
 
7.8%.  That’s the unemployment rate for German youth.  Compare that to Spain, Greece, or America, where almost half of those under the age of 25 are unemployed.  7.8%!
 
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that there might be a link here.  In Germany and several other Northern European countries, choosing a vocational path after high school does not consign one to the ranks of a second class citizen.  Rather, it is what the majority of youth do, and it is considered a viable, enterprising post-high school path.  It would also appear that this choice has been a good one in terms of employment.  NPR’s “Morning Edition” ran a fascinating piece on this topic last week and concluded that the German model may present a compelling answer to the growing skills gap that we see all over our knowledge-based economy.
 
Here in America, we still have a decidedly dim view of vocational education, based on the perception that lower performing, often minority kids are getting “tracked” into low quality vocational schools at early ages, thus creating a dual class economy of educational winners and losers.  In my humble opinion, this holdover view from the 70s and 80s is outdated and just plain wrong.  Contrary to popular belief (as reported by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education):

  • Vocational education students enter postsecondary education at about the same rate as all high school graduates (Kober and Rentner 2000; Stone 1993)
  • Vocational graduates are more likely to be employed and earn more than their non-vocational counterparts, particularly vocational graduates who worked part time during high school (Stone 1993)

Indeed, the knee-jerk negative reaction that so many people have to the words “vocational education” stands at odds with the values many of them actually hold.  A 1997 Washington State Workforce Training and Education Board survey (cited by ERIC) revealed that almost 9 of 10 respondents agreed that high schools should provide some kind of career preparation to every student before graduation, 3 of 4 said that career education should start before high school, and 96 percent favored education for every student that provided a strong academic foundation, hands-on learning experience, and an opportunity to practice what he or she has learned in a work-based setting.  That data doesn’t square with the negative reaction that people have of voc-ed, does it?
 
I think we are on the cusp of a massive wave of post-secondary education reform.  As writer and management consultant Peter Drucker told me in 1997, “Don’t take four-year college for granted.” Boy, was he right.  A combination of changing workforce needs, technical innovation, runaway college costs and flat or declining real wages for most people will challenge the “college-for-all” rhetoric that so many of us now see as the only path to success in America.  We are about to observe the creation and acceptance of multiple enterprising pathways into the mainstream economy.   It will happen whether we like it or not, and I predict it will serve to increase both opportunity and mobility for millions of youth in this nation.

Note: If you want to go deeper here, my friend Nancy Hoffman provides an insightful lens on this topic in her book, “Schooling in the Workplace” (http://www.hepg.org/hep/book/148).

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