Bringing Youth Voice to the White House
“The young spokespeople you trained were an integral part of the White House launch event. Their stories really brought the issue of opportunity youth to life.”
- Jon Bon Jovi
Rock star and philanthropist; former member, White House Council for Community Solutions
“Thank you for helping us bring young peoples’ amazing stories to the White House and a wider national audience. Your team did an excellent job identifying, training and supporting the National Youth Ambassadors—their voices help illustrate what is possible when young people have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”
- Patty Stonesifer
Former Chair, White House Council for Community Solutions; Former CEO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The White House Council for Community Solutions was gearing up for the presentation of their final recommendations to President Obama and the launch of a nationwide campaign to create employment and educational opportunities for “opportunity youth,” the six million 16-24 year-olds who are disconnected from work and school. The Council—whose members included the CEO of eBay, rock star Jon Bon Jovi, the head of Goodwill Industries and a range of community, corporate and nonprofit leaders—wanted to enlist young people who could speak from experience about the issue to share their stories and help advocate for solutions.
We were hired to develop, launch and train a corps of National Youth Ambassadors who could infuse the Council’s final recommendations and the national campaign’s launch and rollout with authentic youth voice. We trained several dozen formerly disconnected youth as spokespeople and helped them tell their uplifting stories of overcoming adversity in a variety of ways—including community events across the country, local media interviews, viral videos, blogs in The Huffington Post, and two White House events. This same group of young people also reviewed the Council’s final recommendations and shared their direct feedback with the Council.
At the White House launch event, two of the Youth Ambassadors, speaking on a panel moderated by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and NAACP head Ben Jealous, brought the issue of opportunity youth to life with touching tales of challenges and triumphs. President Obama spontaneously joined the discussion, recognizing the young spokespeople and thanking them for telling their stories and demonstrating that success is indeed possible. And numerous Council members and attendees—from Bon Jovi and members of Congress, to business and community leaders—all cited the Youth Ambassadors who spoke at both White House events as a highlight of those gatherings, and a key element of the campaign’s success.