Atlanta Youth Seek to Survey Peers About Economic Opportunities and Obstacles
Five young leaders from Southwest Atlanta have launched a research effort to better understand their peers’ educational and career aspirations and the barriers that stand in their way.
These leaders — known as the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) — are launching an online survey with a goal of asking at least 400 Atlanta-based youth about their workforce development experiences, entrepreneurship interests, career pathways and other topics. The group hopes to use what they learn to help youth-serving organizations, policymakers, funders and city leaders expand economic opportunities for young people.
“The youth helping to lead this project possess so much knowledge and potential,” says Nataria Ellis, an intern with the Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site who’s helping manage the YLC. “I know that the results of this project will lead to a transformational change for the youth of Atlanta.”
Creative Research Solutions, a Black-owned firm based in Atlanta, is partnering with the Casey Foundation to help YLC members develop their research approach and then analyze and synthesize their survey findings.
The project also equips YLC members — who are all 18 years or younger — with valuable research and consulting experiences to boost their resumes and prepare them for future career success.
“My experience has been great so far,” says Rachel McBride, a 17-year-old YLC member. “I’ve been exposed to other like-minded youth who are investing in themselves, and I’ve been able to have a direct say in what resources teens in Atlanta need. I hope that by the end of this, our group is able to effect real change and improve entrepreneurial resources for our peers.”
As part of the initial plan design, YLC members received training on workforce development, entrepreneurship and racial equity and inclusion. Kirsten Allen and King Brother Huey, who both worked with the Casey Foundation on a similar research effort in Baltimore, helped shape the YLC strategy and spoke with the group about their experiences on effective youth engagement techniques.
YLC hopes to launch the online survey in January 2022. Our Turn, a national nonprofit focused on youth activism in education, will help the group build its organizing and leadership structures. The group plans to share their findings Casey and other local stakeholders in the spring.
“Atlanta’s youth of color hold the key to the city’s prosperity, and it is essential that their experiences and aspirations are prioritized in policy, storytelling and programming decisions,” says Mohan Sivaloganathan, Our Turn’s chief executive officer. “This project will help to ensure youth not only have a seat at the table, but that they can create their own tables and define their futures for themselves.”