Youth Voice & The Clinton Global Initiative

From NYLC CEO Kelita Bak.

KelitaLast week, I was honored to have been invited to participate in Clinton Global Initiative – America 2015 on behalf of NYLC. Similar to NYLC, CGI places high value on cross-sector collaborations.  Like many of the other nearly 1,000 participants at this year’s convening, I was interested in finding potential additional partners in our work, who share our broad goals around positive outcomes for young people, reforming education, and engaging youth themselves as solutions to the many challenges in our world.

I attend many events and conferences, and I find I am often one of the few who talk about young people at all, let alone those under 18, as a huge, untapped source of human capital. Given the participation by people from every sector, all of them senior leaders in their respective companies and organizations, I expected to be the sole voice once again.  I was absolutely delighted to have that expectation challenged.

I had countless conversations where I was able to share about our approach to create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world through service-learning and the impact that kids can have when given the opportunity.  But what I loved was that so many other people were also discussing the need to engage kids much earlier; they understood that there is a positive correlation between early engagement and brain development, youth development, and the building of academic knowledge and 21st Century Skills.  They understood that there is value in hands-on and experiential learning, and that there are many pathways to success beyond the traditional.

It was a thought-provoking, jam-packed few days, but also a networker’s dream and so much fun.  I loved reconnecting with folks – some of whom I hadn’t seen in years – and meeting so many talented and interesting leaders. Thank you to CGI America for the opportunity, and to all the amazing people who contributed their voice, experience, and expertise to provide such a rich and compelling event.