By Arva Rice
Dear NYULYP Community,
Earlier this month thanks to the efforts of the Young Professionals, I was challenged to ponder the question What is the state of young black New York? Speakers as diverse as Michael Walrond, Senior Pastor at First Corinthians Baptist to Nelini Stamp of the Working Families Party to Rev Al Sharpton, MSNBC Anchor and Founder of the National Action Network shared their perspective with the over 150 attendees. The powerful keynote speakers and panelists challenged us to move moments of agitation, anger or even bitterness into organized commitment to policy change.
As I support and encourage our Young Professionals, work with the youth of our programs and read the troubling headlines, I ask, “What is the state of educational achievement, career success, community engagement and well-being? What societal wrong is this generation working to right?” I cannot help but conclude that it is truly the best and the worst of times for young Black America.
Our Young Professionals are brimming with examples of the best of times. On March 7th, members of the Young Professionals helped create a lasting memory for 120 girls at the affiliates Girl’s Empowerment Day. On March 22nd, almost 100 Young Professionals gave up their Saturday to read, clean and improve lives and communities throughout the five boroughs. And next month, a special event called Rebirth will help provide scholarships for this year’s class of Whiney M. Young, Jr. Scholars.
On Friday, March 28th the affiliate created the same experience for young men as we did for the girls. The young men visited 12 different corporations to explore careers they may never have considered. They then closed their day conversing with men of distinction and Manhattan Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla, Schomberg Center for Research’s Chief Dr. Khalil Muhammed and Shawn Dove, Director of Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Open Society Institute.
There are still too many who can contribute, but do not make the time to give of themselves. I can’t help but remember the words of my Mother who would quote the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. I invite you to join your voice with others committed to making community change.
About the Author, Arva Rice
Arva Rice is President & CEO of the New York Urban League (NYUL) an organization whose mission is to enable African Americans and other underserved communities to secure a first class education, economic self-reliance and equal respect of their civil rights through programs, services and advocacy. Prior to joining NYUL, she served as the Executive Director of Project Enterprise, an organization that provides business loans, technical assistance and peer support to New York City entrepreneurs. Arva was selected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national foundation that develops solutions to build a brighter future for children, as one of 16 leaders from across the country for its 2013-2014 Children and Family Fellows.