February 3, 2012

Good Morning:

Every day I have the privilege of working with young people who are pursuing their studies, engaging their community and, often, working a full or part-time job. Unfortunately, there are 6.7 million Americans, ages 16-24, who are neither in school nor employed.

These young people represent not only a tragic waste of human potential but, in 2011 alone, cost taxpayers more than $93 billion in lost revenue and spending for their support. They are one of the main reasons President Obama formed the White House Council for Community Solutions, a group of 26 people who advise him on ways to reconnect these young people with society and provide communities with guidance on addressing other pressing social problems.

After meeting many such youth as part of my work with the White House Council, I have learned that the vast majority want to work and to be successful. However, family dysfunction, poor schooling, lack of resources, inadequate skills and other factors have conspired to keep them from realizing their potential.

To counter this, the Council has devised recommendations on how communities, universities and businesses can get this group back on the pathway to success for the benefit of everyone. These recommendations include mentoring and internship programs through which employers can develop the skills of young people; more night, weekend and online courses at universities for youths juggling parenthood and other responsibilities; and a host of partnerships communities can form with these and other institutions to transform "Disconnected Youth" into "Opportunity Youth."

I plan to use the work of the White House Council to address the issue of Opportunity Youth in the New Orleans area. I hope you will join me in this effort by sending me your ideas on the best way to help these young people. Once empowered, our opportunity youth will be able to grasp the American dream and make it their own.

In doing so they will make us a stronger, more competitive and just nation. To learn more about this important initiative visit the Council website.

Have a great weekend,


Office of the President Emeritus, 1555 Poydras St, Suite 700, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-274-3638