Agenda For Youth
Advocating for Youth
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County is honored to announce the Agenda for America’s Youth, our inaugural advocacy program geared towards the critical issues and solutions impacting Tarrant County youth. At the forefront of modern discourse is a major concern for the future of America’s youth, as Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County stands to offer the most impactful and relevant solutions to position Tarrant County youth for success.
The key issues that are currently of concern for youth and employees:
The Agenda For Youth aims to raise awareness of community-based social issues and policies that affect the emotional well being of employees and/or families served by the Club, and to provide recommendations and develop strategies that advance the BGCGTC Agenda for Youth.
By advocating for critical issues, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County is uniquely positioned to increase our collective impact on Tarrant County’s young people to empower and ensure that they have the experiences, opportunities and resources they need to reach their fullest potential. These key issues identified for BGCGTC’s Agenda For Youth are:
- Racial Equity and Justice
- Economic and Education Resourcing
- Youth and Family Rights
- Youth Safety
Racial Equity and Justice
At the forefront of modern discourse is a major discussion about systemic issues and social unrest regarding racism, injustice, and opportunities for people of color. As conversations about inequality and racial bias continue, it places a disproportionate amount of emotional stress on minority children and parents. As protests, outcry, and the aftermath of high-profile deaths of numerous Black people continue, parents and educators, wonder what exactly to say to their children.
BGCGTC teens have given voice to concerns about how the place where they feel the most racism is their schools and classrooms, from those tasked with educating them. School practices regarding discipline and the availability of support resources for students creates significant barriers for students and their families to access an equal education.
As the hope for major systemic change arises, the need for resources to communicate, support, and empower children of color is needed now, more than ever. Support is needed to have these conversations with their kids and to help them understand deep issues within society pertaining to race, social justice, and inequality.
Bring awareness to the Independent School Districts about student experiences of racism and balancing diversity within school personnel (i.e. teachers including substitutes, administrators). Examples include:
- Allowing students to express their concerns when dealing with racism in the school system.
- Promoting inclusionary discipline practices that focus on providing resources that support schools’ ability to modify behavior challenges without excluding children through suspension and expulsion.
- Developing curriculums on racism, justice, and equity.
Economic and Education Resourcing
Research emphasizes that inequality dramatically weakens people’s belief in socioeconomic opportunity, thereby reducing the likelihood that disadvantaged young people will engage in behaviors that would improve their chances of upward mobility. Examples of such activities include persisting in school, avoiding teenage pregnancy, abstaining from drug or alcohol abuse. Rising economic inequality has led to widespread concern about the consequences of mobility for youth, and as the COVID-19 pandemic develops, its impact on youth is undeniable.
As our local and national economies struggle in the midst of a global pandemic, under-resourced communities are disproportionately affected by the lack of access to jobs, capital, and basic needs. When added financial pressure is placed on parents needing to make ends meet, youth experience a weakening support system at home. For many of our older youth, there is also the burden of needing to contribute to the home financially, or by providing childcare to younger siblings.
To develop a network of partners and employers to provide skills training, job and internship opportunities for youth that do not otherwise have support systems in their lives to guide/equip them in these basic and necessary life skills. Additionally, to advocate for expanded curriculums that promote life skills courses such as financial literacy.
Youth and Family Rights
Because of recent immigration trends, children with immigrant parents are the fastest growing segment of the nation’s child population. However, children of immigrants live in lower income families than children of natives. In 2018, 54 percent of children of immigrants versus 36 percent of children of natives were low income (i.e., had family incomes below twice the federal poverty level).
Youth and children that represent minority groups of any kind are in a constant battle to reconcile their human rights with their civil rights, and to find supportive programs and services to help them navigate complicated systems that may threaten family construction or personal livelihood. The overwhelming majority of youth served by BGCGTC fall into a minority category of some sort: LGBTQIA+, immigrant and/or ethnic minorities. In particular, support for youth of undocumented parents that face barriers accessing basic needs and health resources for fear of deportation as a result of engaging in the system.
To identify partners and resources to advocate for civil rights support for minority youth and families served by BGCGTC.
The safety and wellbeing of all children and youth is our number one priority at BGCGTC. Our organizational commitment to ensuring safe spaces for kids is not only about physical safety, but also their emotional wellness. Our Club members recognize that we have an opportunity to match our obligation in creating elevating safety for all kids. As the access to technology for children grows, predatory targeting through digital platforms and social media pose threats to both physical and emotional safety of our youth.
Currently, there are almost 79,000 minors and youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas at any given time, according to new two-year study by the University of Texas. The harsh reality is that young people are being exploited, even in Tarrant County, with sex trafficking growing as the fastest growing crime in the world. Child sex trafficking is a hidden crime perpetrated upon minors who don’t often self-identify as victims for many complicated reasons. It is difficult to quantify the size of this problem and much more work is needed to identify and help all the victims.
During adolescence, peer groups and social networks form, each of which can positively or negatively influence a youth’s life. In the communities BGCGTC serves, the risk of joining or being involved with gangs is not only greater, but even viewed as an important life experience. BGCGTC aims to reduce gang violence and influence positive change, but recognizes that this is a major safety risk for youth in Tarrant County. The safety risks out there are great for our young people, and there is great work to be done to advocate for their safety.
To create an education and awareness platform that gives youth access to information, training, and resources on how to best protect themselves from dangerous situations, while also being a leading advocate for more investment into mental health services and programs for youth.
Agents of Change
During this time that major issues are rising to the surface, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County remains an established and trusted leader in youth development in this community and even around the country. As a nation, we are challenged to do more for our community, and especially for our nation’s future leaders and visionaries. Major community-based social issues need to be addressed, and solutions need to be made to create a more vibrant community and agenda. BGCGTC is highly positioned to be the leader in bringing these issues to the forefront of discussion, creating greater awareness and advocacy, and being a partner to government agencies to create sustainable and impactful solutions.
The backbone of the BGCGTC Agenda for Youth will be constructed on (5) Building Principles:
Investment of training and development resources to educate and equip staff and youth with tools to advance change initiatives.
Offering content and programs that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion for youth and staff.
Sourcing and securing a network of public and private sector partners to provide support for change initiatives.
Identifying issues that have policies or resources at the local, state, or federal level that impacts our ability to move change initiatives forward.
Developing an advocacy messaging strategy for key audiences and influencers to promote the BGCGTC Agenda for Youth.