June 9, 2020

Youth About Business Statement Regarding Current Affairs

As Americans across the country make public demands for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sean Read, Ahmaud Arbery, and Steve Taylor, it is clear that we, as a nation, have a much longer journey to travel on the road to remedying centuries of inequalities produced by systemic racism.

In that journey, we must recognize that these voices of protest are not only asking for justice in the policing system, but also for justice in education, economic participation, health care, housing, and opportunity. Black Americans have historically struggled for equality in all aspects of civic life in this country, and that struggle has been compounded in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, this painful and difficult moment must open itself up to become a time for positive and profound systemic change.

For the past 28 years I’ve worked alongside thousands of Black middle and high school students as the president of Creating an Environment of success, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to providing business training and education to underserved youth. During this time, I’ve also helped found various community development initiatives. What I’ve learned from these experiences is that any genuine effort to address systemic inequality must start with the three E’s: Education, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development.

When a community is hurting, investments in education, entrepreneurship, and economic development can lead to dramatic and positive long-term benefits. So, as we think of approaches to addressing systemic racism, we should start by:

  • Revamping public education delivery systems. Public education delivery systems should give all students an equal opportunity to excel in college and in their careers. We can create this opportunity through curriculums of relevant subject matter delivered in an experiential format. The Youth About Business Online Academy is a flagship program of CES that demystifies the world of business and gives high school students access to some of America’s top business professionals. This immersive experience allows our students to embark on an educational path that can lead them to senior levels of corporate and professional industries.
  • Encouraging entrepreneurship. In many urban communities across the country, owning a successful business can seem like a distant dream. While the entrepreneurial mindset exists in many of these communities, the supportive infrastructure to develop ideas into reality is often lacking. These communities can benefit from adopting the business coalition model that CES helped found to educate, train, and support young entrepreneurs.
  • Developing economic opportunities. Creating jobs and growing local businesses set a foundation from which we can uplift communities. CES has been instrumental in the creation of an economic development fund that creates opportunities for community ownership of local development. This can be duplicated in urban communities throughout the country to help them propose and implement their own solutions to the economic challenges they face.

True and sustainable change will come when all Americans are dissatisfied with reports such as this one highlighting that white families in Boston have a median net worth of $247,000.00 while black families in the city have a median net worth of $8.00.

This is an upsetting reality, but there is hope in knowing that it can be changed. We can change it. When we invest in education, entrepreneurship, and economic development in underserved communities, we invest in justice everywhere for everyone.

— Samuel Kirk

Samuel E. Kirk is president and founder of Creating an Environment of Success, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to exposing youth to the business world and fostering the development of business literacy and leadership skills necessary to be more successful in school and in life.