Atlanta Youth Seek to Survey Peers About Economic Opportunities and Obstacles

Posted December 15, 2021
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Close-up shot of a woman of color using her cell phone.

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.”

Learn more about sim­i­lar research efforts in Baltimore

Read a Casey report about effec­tive­ly part­ner­ing with young people

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