For Metro Detroit youth, the future is now

Matt Elliott

Everyone wants the best for their children—from the time they’re born to the time they graduate high school and transition to adulthood. As parents, we’re constantly looking for new opportunities to offer what we didn’t have in our own young lives. We want them to get a good education, and understand the importance, and reap the rewards, of hard work and dedication. As a father of two, I certainly want these things for my children, but for many in Metro Detroit, it isn’t easy. It’s especially difficult for young people in Detroit, where the teenage unemployment rate is currently above 14 percent.

Today, not enough teenagers in Southeast Michigan have the opportunity to gain learning experiences that equip them for future education and employment. We know early job opportunities are critical in preparing young people for today’s competitive workforce, which is why Bank of America is invested in initiatives that connect young people to the workforce development and educational opportunities they need to build stronger financial lives.

Through the Bank of America Student Leaders program, Alana Crawford, Labrayla Key, Mathew Massey, Christina Okezie and Isabella Ouellette have spent their summer working at local nonprofit, Focus: HOPE, where they’ve committed their prized summer months in between classes to learn what it’s like to work in the nonprofit sector.

I’m humbled by not only what these students have already accomplished in their internship, but also their commitment to the community they demonstrated even before being selected for the program and their aspirations for future success. Previous to their time with Focus: HOPE, these five students donated more than 3,000 hours of volunteer service to more than 20 organizations based around Metro Detroit.

This summer, they not only learned invaluable workforce skills that will lay the foundation for future career success, but also gained an in-depth understanding of some of the issues impacting our local community and our country.

As part of their summer employment experience, the students spent a week in Washington, D.C. at the Bank of America Student Leadership Summit, where they took part in a service learning project, participated in a poverty simulation and attended leadership workshops.

In addition, these five young community activists spent time with like-minded teens from around the country discussing ways to improve their communities at home and become beacons of hope for the next generation and beyond.

Opportunities like this help inspire the leaders of tomorrow to build healthy communities and achieve their full career potential. It is our responsibility as community leaders to help them along the path to success by connecting them to the employment opportunities they need to lead stronger financial lives.

We’re proud to partner with Focus: HOPE and dedicated youth in our communities who are sure to be the leaders of tomorrow. If you know of a current high school junior or senior interested in the 2016 Bank of America Student Leaders program.

Matt Elliott is president of the Michigan market for Bank of America.