Yr of The Youth: One Yr Later

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens with members of the Atlanta Teen Chief’s Academy. Images by Noah Washington/The Atlanta Voice

“It’s simpler to construct robust youngsters than to restore damaged males.” – Frederick Douglass

These phrases spoken by the legendary educator, creator, and race man now embody Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ Yr of The Youth Initiative. Launched in January of 2023, attendees gathered virtually one 12 months to the day of the kickoff, on January thirty first, to mirror on the progress made so far.

Ayan Hickman, 20, a Georgia Tech enterprise analytics main and Yr Of The Youth ambassador took the stage first, sitting with Dickens, his fellow Yr of the Youth ambassadors, and metropolis officers. Hickman spoke of his expertise in this system within the Atlanta Metropolis atrium to attendees made up of sponsors, mentors, and members in this system: “We aren’t simply the long run; we’re the architects of immediately. We’re succesful and can produce as a lot change as our successors,” mentioned Hickman.

Following Hickman, Dickens took to the stage and thanked Atlanta Metropolis Council, who he cited as at the moment in session, earlier than highlighting the accomplishments of this system, which included:

– A primary-of-its-kind, $20 million funding in our metropolis’s early childhood training growth system.

– $1 million in secure areas for the Boys and Women Membership of Metro Atlanta.

– 5,418 youth registered for the Summer time Youth Employment program with a mean hourly wage of $17.27.

Talking in regards to the inception of this system, Dickens gave appreciation to 2 of his transition crew members, Lisa Cunningham and Jennifer Keenan, who had been offered with their plaques for the work that contributed to this system, “Our dedication to our younger individuals has on no account ended,” Dickens mentioned earlier than exiting the stage. 

There have been a number of visitor audio system in the course of the presentation, certainly one of whom included John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE founder, and entrepreneur. Galvanizing the viewers with the phrases, “Something Is Potential,” Bryant spoke to the significance of economic literacy inside the Black neighborhood by solidifying its significance for the youth. Itemizing Atlanta because the tenth largest financial system in america and the largest financial system within the south, Bryant mentioned, “Half of Black Individuals have a credit score rating of 620; you may’t get a good dwelling mortgage with a rating of 620. You possibly can’t get something with out a credit score rating of at the least 700.” Bryant then recounted assembly Dickens for the primary time post-election and discussing the matter of economic literacy, “The Mayor (Dickens) is the one Mayor I do know who understands credit score scores,” Bryant continued.

Atlanta native Courtney English, Chief Coverage Officer, and Senior Advisor to the Mayor, in addition to Morehouse and Columbia College graduate, listed a few of the wider results the Yr of The Youth had on the town, “Final 12 months in the course of the Yr of the Youth, the town noticed a 19 % discount in violent crime,” English mentioned, “Final 12 months our metropolis obtained a 21% discount in murder,” English continued earlier than capping the crime-related accomplishment, “In the course of the Yr of the Youth, we noticed a 46% discount in youth murder. Extra of our youthful persons are residing to see older age,” English mentioned.

Following the statistical breakdown, English gave a name to motion to the attending viewers to thank Janean Lewis, Senior Coverage Advisor of Youth Improvement & Schooling, in addition to Senior Director of Youth Engagement Workplace of the Mayor for all of the work she did for the 2023 program 12 months,  “The Yr of the Youth exceeded my expectations. We served over 30,000 youth by way of Metropolis applications, neighborhood outreach, jobs, and internships and in collaboration with a whole lot of implementation companions. The Atlanta neighborhood really answered the decision to motion and in each nook of the Metropolis, there have been applications for youth of all ages and pursuits. I’m humbled to steer this initiative on behalf of Dickens and impressed by the work we are going to accomplish for youngsters, youth, and younger adults—in 2024,” Lewis instructed The Atlanta Voice. 

Following Lewis’s standing ovation she spoke in regards to the historic academic achievements made in the course of the Yr of The Youth, comparable to:


      - Atlanta public colleges had the best commencement charge in Atlanta public faculty’s historical past at 86.6%.

      - Atlanta public colleges surpassed the state commencement charge.

      - Frederick Douglass Excessive Faculty has the best commencement charge achieve (7.2 % achieve from 2022).

“It’s been an honor – I’ve gotten numerous alternatives to satisfy lots of people and I obtained put in conditions the place usually I didn’t suppose I’d be in. It’s opened me up and given me extra confidence,” mentioned Hickman.


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