Job prospects after high school and even college can feel low, but is there anything being done about it? Mayor Cantrell’s office announced on Tuesday that the city received a grant of $150,000 to tackle these concerns with new youth employment programs to be developed over the next 18 months.
Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño said in the press release, “This Administration is committed to supporting the young people of New Orleans so that they are prepared for the jobs of the future and able to achieve a higher quality of life than the generations that came before them.”
New Orleans is one of 10 cities chosen for the initiative, which is supported by a $12 million investment from the Ballmer Group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Other cities receiving funds include:
- Newark, NJ
- Rochester, NY
- Cincinnati, OH
- Dayton, OH
- Detroit, MI
- Lansing, MI
- Racine, WI
- Albuquerque, NM
- Tulsa, OK
According to the press release, New Orleans was selected via a competitive process that examined local commitment to solving the economic mobility problem, willingness to use evidence and data to accelerate the process, and the ability and willingness to create a dedicated team to accomplish the initiative’s goals. New Orleans will work with other participating cities to develop, pilot, and evaluate an initiative focused on improving residents’ long-term economic mobility.
#NewOrleans has been selected to participate in an exciting new initiative aimed at boosting #EconomicMobility across the country. Here in #NOLA, we will be working with opportunity youth to get them #jobready. #CityOfYes #NOLA @CityOfNOLA Read more! https://t.co/90RPwPkjVP pic.twitter.com/8kWLLpBfqx
— Mayor LaToya Cantrell (@mayorcantrell) June 18, 2019
Comedian Bob Murrell countered with this tweet:
Awesome! Will they be able to afford housing in the city with said jobs? Jobs are great! They mean nothing if they can't live anywhere.
— 🅱️🅾️🅱️ (@bobmurrell) June 18, 2019
It’s worth noting that New Orleans is currently in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, needing more than 30,000 affordable housing opportunities by 2025 in order to meet residents’ needs.
According to Governing, the rate of unemployment among people aged 16 to 21 in Louisiana was 13.1% as of 2015. The high school graduation rate of low-income students was 70.8%. For disabled students, it was 44.3%. As of 2018, Louisiana experienced record highs of graduation, but still lower than the national average. And, for those without a high school degree, finding good work can be tough. Without good paying work or affordable homes, what kind of life are we building for the next generation?
It’s important to remember that these first initiatives are “trial runs.” Bloomberg Philanthropies representative Andrea Coleman says of the 18-month long programs, “it’s about assessing the results, sharing what’s been learned, and potentially scaling what works to other cities as well.”
Bill Arceneaux has been an independent writer and film critic in the New Orleans area since 2011, working with outlets like Film Threat, DIG Baton Rouge, Crosstown Conversations, and Occupy. He is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association and is Rotten Tomatoes approved. Follow him on Twitter: @billreviews