Overcoming Disenfranchisement of Young People

With more than 40 years of experience in rabbinical leadership, Rabbi Steven Jacobs strives to help communities and groups surmount obstacles posed by political issues and prejudice through his organization the Progressive Faith Foundation. In addition to his work with the Progressive Faith Foundation, Rabbi Steven Jacobs serves on the boards of directors of such organizations as Faith in Public Life, Equality California, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

More than 50 percent of the people on the planet live in cities and approximately half of these city dwellers are under 25 years old. With unemployment a factor in many of these urban areas, some people view young adults as a drain on society rather than a promising influence; their reliance in many cases on government assistance often makes them a target for prejudice and disenfranchisement. Experts believe, however, that concentrated focus on developing programs aimed at meeting the specific needs of young adults could shift the cycle of disenfranchisement and create new job opportunities while improving quality of life for all residents.

In an increasing number of cities, local groups offer young people the chance to participate in programs that enhance the quality of life in their neighborhoods. These projects include such endeavors as urban design, park refurbishment, and renovations of sports facilities. In many cases, the young people gain valuable connections by meeting business owners, professionals, skilled workers, and college students who inspire them to realize their own potential to make a positive contribution to society.

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