On December 14, 2010, President Obama signed an executive order establishing the White House Council for Community Solutions to engage a diverse group of prominent cross-sector leaders to:
- Connect, convene and catalyze the best resources of the public, private, non-profit and philanthropic sectors in communities across the country
- Identify and highlight solutions that work
- Identify key attributes of effective cross-sector solutions from institutions working together on community problems
- Catalyze resources to support effective community-based solutions
Across America, individuals and community groups are finding innovative solutions to address local problems and encourage civic participation. In learning about these community-led initiatives, the Council chose to focus on supporting young people who are not connected with education and employment.
While these young people are commonly referred to as disconnected youth, the Council identified them as opportunity youth because of the untapped potential they offer and high cost that inaction poses for our nation.
Through extensive research, listening and outreach efforts, the Council learned that:
- Certain community collaboratives that embody a common approach and core set characteristics can make significant progress toward solving a range of social issues.
- There is an urgent and compelling need to bring together all sectors around helping opportunity youth. At least 6.7 million youth (ages 16-24) – or one in six young people – are out of school and the workforce. In 2011 alone, taxpayers shouldered $93 billion in direct and indirect costs to support these young people.
- Opportunity youth have the potential infuse our economy with skills and leadership. Young people who are out of school and work do not see themselves as “disconnected.” They have energy and aspirations, and are eager to work with local leaders to develop solutions that improve their lives, benefit their community, and help youth nationwide.
The Council’s work focused in three phases:
- Phase One: Listen and learn. Through research and intensive listening sessions with over 300 different stakeholders – the Council learned a lot from community leaders to youth. The Council wanted to understand the common traits that effective collaboratives share and the common barriers that keep young people out of school and work.
- Phase Two: Develop and launch new resources.
- The Collaboratives Toolbox is a guide for communities to create or improve collaborations and includes best practices, tools and models for effective cross-sector community initiatives.
- The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth assesses the size of the population of youth who are out of school and work, the cost of inaction, and the benefits of re-investing in these young people.
- A Toolkit for Employers: Connecting Youth and Business is an easy-to-use guide for employers when developing opportunities for low-income and disconnected youth to develop: (1) soft skills through mentoring, (2) work-ready skills through career days and job-shadowing, and (3) learn & earn skills through internships and permanent positions.
- Phase Three: Develop a Final Report and recommendations to support the growth of successful community solutions and connect Opportunity Youth with learning and employment. By building awareness of this issue, what works, and available tools, communities can create real, systematic change for young people.
The White House Council for Community Solutions concluded its work in June 2012. The final report is posted on this page.
First Lady Michelle Obama,
Honorary Chair, White House Council for Community Solutions
Chairwoman, Smithsonian Institution
Director of the Social Sector Office, McKinsey and Company
President and CEO, Independent Sector
Retired Senior Executive, Starbucks
Jon Bon Jovi
Musician and Board Chairman, Bon Jovi and Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation
President and CEO, Civic Enterprises
President and CEO, James Irvine Foundation
President, Tulane University
President and CEO, eBay Inc.
Executive Director, David Bohnett Foundation
Lead Director and Chair, Edison Properties/HNB Private Trust
President and CEO, Goodwill Industries International, Inc.
Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Founder, President and CEO, MWW Group
Blue Hill Group
Founder and CEO, Family Independence Initiative
Laurene Powell Jobs
Co-Founder and President of the Board, College Track
CEO, Seattle Foundation
Founder and CEO, Revolution Foods
President, Rockefeller Foundation
Nancy H. Rubin
Board member of the National Democratic Institute
CEO, Public Allies
Principal, Consulting with ParenteBeard
Senior Vice President, Global Responsibility Gap Inc. and President, Gap Foundation
Founder and CEO, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild
President, Community Relations and Target Foundation
Chair, Corporation for National and Community Service