National Council of Young Leaders – Opportunity Youth United

Shirwanda James – Outreach Alumni Mentor – Mile High Youth Corps

Recently, I went to Washington, D.C. as part of the National Council of Young Leaders – Opportunity Youth United. The Council brought together representatives from sponsoring organizations, including: College Advising Corps, The Corps Network, Jobs for the Future, Public Allies, Year Up, YouthBuild U.S.A, Be the Change Inc., Gateway to College, Mikva Challenge, National Guard Youth Foundation and Partners for Education to go over recommendations to increase opportunity and decrease poverty in America.

Getting to meet all of the other council members was really inspiring. For me to be able to sit down and share ideas, hear their stories, backgrounds on how different organizations helped them, the opportunity they were given and how they want to give the same opportunity to others. They inspired me to come up with ways that I can reach back and help other youth like me and also show them how to do the same. That way this chain of opportunity continues. Together we helped add on to a proposal to build a movement of opportunity youth in collaboration with OYU. Also, we went over the basics of making the movement public (Website, logo, other social media, everything we should do).

We also got to go to the White House briefing for The Corps Network, which was a great experience, too. The event was put together so that Corps from all over the nation could come together and discuss how they provide education, job training, and environmental and community service opportunities for young Americans from all types of different backgrounds. We also went over the role of President Obama’s Task Force on expanding National Services. Sitting in on the panel to discuss the role of the Task Force was senior admiration officials: Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, Michael Smith and Deputy Director of the Council on Women and Girls’, Hallie Schneir. There was also a panel with current and former Corpsmembers to share their stories on how the Corps changes their life for the better and even how the Corps set them up to make bigger impacts and have bigger careers with what they learned.

NCYL were invited to view the Rise the Promise of my Brother’s Keeper. This was about taking a look at boys, young men and their families of color from all over that have been part of life changing intervention programs. YouthBuild U.S.A was one of four programs highlighted. With that the NCYL got invited to The White House viewing the next day and two of the council members from YouthBuild U.S.A sat on a panel after.

The service project has a really big turnout. For the second year of doing the event there were more than double the people from the year before. The speakers for the service day were CEO and President of The Corps Network Mary Ellen Sprenkel, Director of the National Park Service Jon Jarvisand Director of AmeriCorps Bill Basl. We helped do some maintenance projects on the National Mall, removed invasive honey suckles from Teddy Roosevelt Island, did landscaping work on Danger Field Island and more.

White House

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