A new initiative designed to engage rural youth and young adults in the life of their communities will launch in January, marking the beginnings of a multimillion dollar effort that will touch thousands of young people across the state.Read the full article
The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center announced the three-year, $3.6 million project Thursday [Nov. 17] during the 2011 Rural Partners Forum.
It is supported by public and private partners and will be guided by the New Generation Advisory Council, made up of rural economic and community leaders.
“This is about building a foundation to grow North Carolina’s rural areas,” said Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, who will chair the council.
Earlier during the forum, Rural Center President Billy Ray Hall noted that over the last two decades 54 rural counties lost population in the 24- to 30-year-old age group. Furthermore, he said, 16 rural counties lost more than 20 percent of their young adult population.
“We have to give them a reason to stay,” he said. “We have to create jobs that will allow them to earn a living and support a family. We have to continue to build an educational system that will prepare them and their children for the future. We have enhance the quality of life. And most of all, we have to listen to what they have to say, engage them in identifying solutions and then act on what they tell us.”
The New Generation Initiative addresses those points through four distinct programs, touching on entrepreneurship, training for available career opportunities, leadership development and community service. Specifically:
New Generation Ventures aims to make self-employment an attractive and attainable career option for young adults, ages 18-30. It will support young entrepreneurs by providing scholarships for business-related training, business counseling, networking opportunities and access to new forms of business capital tailored to the specific needs of young business owners.
New Generation Careers will encourage young adults to develop careers close to home while engaging rural businesses to cultivate local talent pools. It will provide grants to assist 10 communities with the development of locally based strategies to fill and create jobs in high-demand fields. The project will feature apprenticeships, on-the-job training and wage subsidies to help employers make new hires.
New Generation Leaders will award challenge grants to stimulate the formation of high-energy youth and young adult action teams in rural communities. Through the action teams, young people ages 16 to 30 will work together and with established leadership to design and implement a project aimed at attracting and retaining young adults in the community. Thirty grants will be awarded over three years.
New Generation Communities will provide high-quality resources and training programs for rural communities that seek to more fully engage youth and young adults in economic and community life. A 160-page youth engagement resource directory offers information on national, state and local resources for communities seeking to launch or expand local initiatives. A series of training programs will provide how-to information on such topics working with at-risk youth, fostering entrepreneurship and creating a welcoming.
Hall said that by January 2015, the program will have worked directly with nearly 2,000 rural young people, helped 100 young rural entrepreneurs start their own businesses and involved 3,750 young people in community improvement projects.
New Generation Funding Partners: N.C. General Assembly, BB&T, First Citizens Bank, Appalachian Regional Commission, Golden Corral, North Carolina's Electric Cooperatives, Wells Fargo, N.C. Association of County Commissioners.
New Generation Advisory Council:
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, chair
N.C. Rep. Carolyn Justice, vice chair
Valeria Lee, Rural Center board chair
Andy Anderson, Community Innovations Inc.
June Atkinson, N.C. Department of Public Instruction
Mike Atkinson, First Citizens Bank
Leslie Boney, University of North Carolina
Anita Brown-Graham, Institute for Emerging Issues
Olivia Collier, Appalachian Regional Commission
Paul Cuadros, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs
Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF Foundation
Tony Habit, N.C. New Schools Project
Ellis Hankins, N.C. League of Municipalities
Andrea Harris, Institute of Minority Economic Development
Tony Hayes, N.C. Indian Economic Development Commission
Nelle Hotchkiss, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives
Ray Jeffers, Person County Board of Commissioners
Easter Maynard, Golden Corral
David Mayo, Small Business and Technology Development Center
Lloyd Payne, City of Elkin
Scott Ralls, N.C. Community College System
Mikki Sager, The Conservation Fund
Roger Shackleford, Workforce Development, N.C. Department of Commerce
Ashley Sherrill, Economic Development, Montgomery County
Joe Stanley, Joe and Moe’s Auto Service
Marshall Stewart, N.C. Cooperative Extension
David Thompson, N.C. Association of County Commissioners
Steve Troxler, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Robert R. Webb, The Duke Endowment-Rural Church Program
Leon Wilson, BB&T
Gregory Winkler, Wells Fargo
Larry Wooten, N.C. Farm Bureau.
The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop sound economic strategies that improve the quality of life in rural North Carolina, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes and communities with limited resources. The center operates a multifaceted program that includes conducting research into rural issues; testing promising rural development strategies; advocating for policy and program innovations; and building the productive capacity of rural leaders, entrepreneurs and community organizations.