In the United States, more than 4.6 million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither in school nor employed. About half of us are living in poverty. In recent years we have been called “Opportunity Youth” both because we are seeking opportunity and we offer the nation an opportunity if it would invest in ways for us to rebuild our communities and our lives.
Opportunity Youth United is a national movement of young leaders who have decided to join forces to increase opportunity and decrease poverty in America. We are a group as diverse as America. Our members are Black, White, Native American, Latinx, Asian, and Mixed Heritage with different religions, ethnicities, genders and sexual identities representing urban, rural, and tribal communities.
Members of our coordinating body, the National Council of Young Leaders and the majority of our members, have endured poverty, suffering all manner of difficulties including homelessness, discrimination, and violence. We have experienced being out of school and out of work, with no place to turn.
We received opportunities empowering us to transcend these circumstances. As a result, we are dedicated to creating a society with safety and opportunity for all, and to strengthening our communities for our peers, families, and future generations.
OUR VISION, MISSION AND IMPACT
Our vision is a society with opportunity and responsibility, love and respect, education and employment, justice and equality for all. We envision a nation where all young people can reach their highest potential and noblest aspirations in the context of safe, supportive, and healthy communities.
We have developed Recommendations to Increase Opportunity and Decrease Poverty in America to get us there.
Opportunity Youth United is a national movement of young people and allies working to increase opportunity and decrease poverty in America.
OYUnited is a national movement of young people and allies from all backgrounds committed to creating a society that invests adequately in the education and welfare of its children and youth, supports family and community life, ends mass incarceration and discrimination of all kinds, promotes a robust participatory democracy, and is structured to provide opportunity and responsibility for all.
In this we are united.
Everything we do is rooted in our guiding principles, developed by our National Council of Young Leaders:
Action for change must be grounded in love, led by moral and spiritual consciousness, to transform societies and individuals.
We must lead by example, taking responsibility and being accountable to others and to ourselves for all of our actions, knowing that we must be role models for our peers.
Forgiveness and empathy
We must forgive others and ourselves, with empathy, understanding the full reality faced by all of us.
We must empower our peers and the residents in our communities to overcome their feelings of powerlessness, apathy, and fear, to work together proactively to create stronger communities in which everyone is committed to everyone else’s well-being, where we take care of each other, correct each other and love each other. We must organize, vote, become active, and take charge and responsibility for our lives and communities.
We must be inclusive, refusing to stereotype any group of people or any individual.
We must make ourselves visible, tell our stories and our truth to influential people who are uninformed and insulated from the twin oppressions of poverty and racism. We believe if they truly hear us, many of them will care and join with us. We must equally become visible to other young people who need to see that it is possible to transcend the obstacles they face and to find pathways to productive citizenship.
We must encourage more collaboration and less competition among nonprofits that have been pressured by resource shortages to be in competition for limited funds. We need them to be in collaboration to expand the resources, and to share their knowledge and resources with each other, on our behalf.
Accountability for results
We must be willing to look critically at results, asking programs that we support to track demographics, outcomes, and return on investment.
Respect for faith
We must respect each other’s sources of faith and spirituality, accepting differences and welcoming the strength that comes from different religious faiths.
We must remain humble and committed, remembering that good works are always in service to others, not to promote our own careers.
Learn how we evolved from a council of young leaders to a national movement.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TIDES
OYUnited is proud to partner with Tides as our fiscal sponsor. Tides is a philanthropic partner and nonprofit accelerator dedicated to building a world of shared prosperity and social justice. Tides works at the nexus of funders, changemakers, and policy, with extensive impact solutions including philanthropic giving and grantmaking, impact investing, fiscal sponsorship for social ventures, collaborative workspaces, and policy initiatives. Their extensive tools and know-how give their partners the freedom to hit the ground running and drive change faster than they can on their own. At Tides, Harris Bostic is the program advisor for Opportunity Youth United. For more information, visit www.tides.org