We’ve discussed what a continued response to Ferguson based on what relationship looks like, but relationships alone will not bring the long-term healing we’re after.
We need to get to the core of systemic injustice. We need to get to the core of why the poor are continuing to stay poor. We need to get to the core of the cycle of poverty. Relationship alone will never get to the core of all those things. We need to talk a look at the deeper needs of our community, which includes creating Opportunity.
When you create opportunity in broken places, you create new hope. You create new futures, new outcomes, and new stories, all while preserving dignity. You create sustainable income and you create new skills that will empower people for the rest of their lives.
You can begin taking action to create opportunity in a variety of ways:
Use your knowledge and caring to inspire kids to succeed in school. Youth enter our Beyond School program reading more than two years below grade level. When you work with a child one afternoon a week in our program, that child will make reading gains, get back on grade level, and get on track to graduate high school. This is one of the best ways to ensure that youth will have access to opportunity to succeed later in life. If you have two hours a week, consider spending it with one of our students. They’ll learn from you and you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from them.
Mentor and use your experience to equip those looking for a job. Through our Job & Leadership Training (JLT), volunteers walk alongside our JLT students as they learn to become leaders in their communities. We also have volunteers utilize their skills, like financial literacy, to empower students to make better choices for their future. I bet you have some skill that’s unique to you- think of what could be if you chose to share that skill with someone who needs it.
This year, we launched our employment agency Hire St. Louis to further equip people with employment opportunities. Hire St. Louis recruits, screens and places workers who are consistent, punctual and coachable. Our goal is to equip those looking for a job by bridging relationships between employers and job-seekers.
Use your influence to advocate for jobs. What does this look like in your specific situation? If you are an employee, advocate for hiring workers with diverse backgrounds. If you are business owner, make room in your company for these workers. If full employment isn’t an option, start with short-term employment through Hire St. Louis or be an internship placement site for Job & Leadership Training students.
The long-term solution is to create jobs. The dignity of people many times comes through work. Employment increases self-worth, responsibility, and the power to provide for oneself and family. The way to do this where it is needed most is to create jobs in broken places, like low-income areas.
Creating opportunity means investing in our city. You can invest in our city in many ways, much more than just the ways we mentioned here. You don’t have to invest through us, but please, invest somehow in the future of our city!
If you are unsure of how you can create opportunity for others but would still like to help, consider donating to Mission: St. Louis or volunteer your time with one of our programs. Any amount of time or funds will make a difference in creating opportunity as we seek to transform our city.