When youth are offered engaging work-based learning, collaborative governance and leadership opportunities, and a clear set of deliverables, we are awe-struck by their ideas, perspectives, and potential. While academic rigor has its place, LWJ understands that it is often edge students that lead movements and operate essential businesses within our communities.
Our youth focus is the outsider who struggles on tests, the working teen who heads to a restaurant when the school day ends, and the long bus ride home student who adds two hours of travel time to their day. A student who may struggle in school due to a personal challenge or a wonky teacher. Employable skill sets create options. Students failing traditional classes often gravitate toward hands-on work, as they have for generations, and find their path forward. LWJ, as an organization, designs and implements safety nets to engage and ensure high-need student success.
Youth are wonderfully different in affinity and capability; parents press for engineering, computer science, legal, and pre-med, all of which require top grades, scores, leadership activities, or unique life stories. Poor grades and drop-out rates are part of a cycle of inequality, low self-esteem, and consequent societal issues such as crime, youth violence, gang membership, and lack of civic participation. This crisis systematically builds alienation and inequalities. There is also a skills shortage in high-wage, high-growth sectors and a lack of diversity in the workforce, shown to impact corporate performance significantly. Respect and recognition from the community, parents, industry, and peers developed through skill building, industry certification, verifiable credentials, and mathematics completion opportunities contribute to breaking this cycle.
Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
“Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.”
Potential work-learn-govern combinations begin with the ability to afford an apartment, eat healthy meals, and access affordable transportation and healthcare.