“The youth are our future”. This phrase is said so often it sometimes is easy to overlook the value in this statement. Today’s youth are our future community leaders and the future workforce for our economy. We need to take ownership of their development by helping them develop the skills they need to be productive members of society, both in terms of leading industry and providing the leadership their communities need.

One of the attributes of this up and coming generation is that many are showing a great interest in and a commitment to service. There is a need for structured programs to mentor and educate these teens and pre-teens through volunteer opportunities so they have the skillsets to make a difference in the future of their communities.

Youth Volunteer Corps sponsored by Youth Alliance is a great example of a program that inspires youth ages 11-18 to make a difference. Structured and well-planned activities engage these volunteers in service projects that are challenging, yet rewarding. Youth Alliance also offers opportunities for youth to be in mentored employment and subsidized employment, with the hopes of securing non-subsidized jobs in the future.

Youths discover through programs like this that they can help serve the unmet needs of the residents around them. It opens their eyes to the struggles others face and helps them realize they can be a part of the solution. Furthermore, when they engage in these activities as youths, it becomes a life-long lesson. It’s programs like this, through structured community service, that helps them develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and those around them.

Small business owners can also assist in developing the minds and skillsets of these individuals by offering internship programs. The advantages are two-fold: you take an active part in preparing our future workforce for the real world, and you identify future.

As a small business owner, you are probably well aware of the amount of time you spend hiring qualified employees. It’s a gamble, but it doesn’t have to be: if you have a pool of interns from which to choose, you know exactly what you’re going to get when it comes time to offer a position.

Students involved in internship programs gain experience, make the appropriate connections and develop the skills they’ll need to enter the workforce. They not only bolster their resumes, they also discover the strength of their abilities and find out exactly where their interests lie. When you offer a paid internship, there is the added benefit of increased economic stability, especially for disadvantaged youths.

Small businesses that have taken this step of offering an internship program can attest to its ability to facilitate success at their organization while also giving something back to the community.

Youth Alliance

Youth Alliance is a non-profit organization committed to impacting the issues that affect our community’s children and youth. We are membership-based, drawing upon the expertise, involvement and passion of numerous Northwest Missouri businesses, community members and non-profit organizations in our work. We strive to build collaboration between community-wide organizations, to share the information we learn, to identify and analyze community outcomes and to utilize our resources in the best ways possible for youth.