Leading Students to the Path of Economic Self-sufficiency

December 22, 2017

Anna Sun, 16, a high school sophomore at Detroit Country Day School. She was born and raised in Canton, Michigan near the Detroit metro area. She is a co-founder and director of the Little Stars Foundation, a nonprofit youth organization, which provides services to local children and seniors, enriching their lives through music since 2007. In her free time, she enjoys running, playing the violin, and traveling with family.

Many young adults have trouble finding their way to a successful job and life. Youth Opportunities Unlimited provides services for youth in Northeast Ohio who want to pursue a path to economic self-sufficiency. Y.O.U. offers development programs that prepare teens and young adults for employment to help break the cycle of poverty. In addition to facilitating a summer program that gives teens opportunities and experience, Y.O.U. offers a young entrepreneurship program called E CITY, that informs teens on how to start and run their own businesses.

Many teens have found success through Y.O.U.’s programs and found their path to economic self-sufficiency. One example is Stephanie Foxworth, who was a student with the 2011-2012 E CITY program. Coming into the program, Foxworth faced many hardships as a teen mom who was homeless and was forced to drop out of high school yet still wanted to get her GED. Not only that, her mother was diagnosed with terminally ill cancer. At the summer BizCamp, she planned to make and sell chocolate-covered apples. After her experience at the business camp, Stephanie enrolled in Y.O.U.’s E CITY youth entrepreneurial program which not only won her the regional competition, but she placed nationally as well. From the business she created, she received the first-ever Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Alumni Fund College Scholarship of $10,000.

Youth Opportunities facilitates a summer program providing jobs to 4,000 youth. In 2017, Y.O.U. had a 94% success rate with grade advancement for teens in their programs and an 88% success rate of teens graduating on-time. Y.O.U. is not just a set of programs offering teens and young adults a pathway to economic independence, but also “a support structure and guardian angel for so many teens and ‘opportunity youth’ in the Cleveland metropolitan area,” as Marcus Harris, one of the contributing member’s states.

Once a Y.O.U. volunteer himself in his former career as a manager with Starbucks Coffee Company, Harris had found every volunteer experience to be meaningful. Harris had a passion for helping others and becoming invested in the student’s success. Though there may be some ups and downs, Harris states that “if you can touch the lives of just a few of the thousands of students in the area and help them build a brighter future it is all worth it”. The Youth Opportunities staff is helping students create a better future and arm them with the skills and experiences they need.

All info courtesy of Marcus Harris