This program could cure Nashville's youth unemployment, with help

This article, written by Tyson Moore, originally appeared on June 28, 2017, in the Tennessean.

Population growth. Commercial development. Expansion.

These days, Nashville is synonymous with these and many other signs of a thriving economy that is perhaps the healthiest it has ever been.

Nashville's job growth came out of the Great Recession charging full steam ahead. But despite our prosperity, the youth unemployment rate is consistently higher than the general population. Many teens and young adults in our community struggle to find paid summer employment.

In Tennessee, 10.3 percent of the labor force ages 16-24 is unemployed.

The issue of youth unemployment in Nashville has come to the forefront recently, with Mayor Megan Barry initiating a program, Opportunity Now, that will provide youth in Nashville with the resources to obtain summer employment. The private- public partnership aims to connect 10,000 young people to summer jobs in 2017.

Bank of America knows how important early employment opportunities are in preparing youth for success in today's competitive workforce. Young people who work tend to have lower dropout rates, are more likely to set and pursue career goals, and display an increased overall lifetime earning potential. By receiving a paycheck, these teens also learn the value of financial management and personal savings at an early age.

That's why Bank of America recently announced a partnership with the Nashville Public Library Foundation to provide paid summer jobs to local teens through a $30,000 grant, providing 12 paid internship positions at the Nashville Public Library.

In addition to the Opportunity Now partnership, Bank of America has connected more than 2,400 high school juniors and seniors over the last 14 years, including 68 teens from right here in Middle Tennessee, with nonprofit job experience through the Student Leaders program.

Summer employment helps youth begin to develop workforce skills and build professional connections while giving them the opportunity to learn concrete money management skills that will guide them throughout their lives. As part of our Student Leaders program, Bank of America volunteers provide hands-on financial education for participating teens through Better Money Habits curriculum and BetterMoneyHabits.com.

It's our responsibility as local employers and leaders to ensure that the young adults in Nashville have access to job opportunities that will enhance their financial futures. By supporting programs like Opportunity Now that give Nashville's youth the resources they need to find a job, we can guide this aspiring generation of leaders as they begin to mold their careers.

I am fortunate to have spent the last two years on the board of the Nashville Public Library Foundation. I've witnessed the impact of this organization on Nashville's youth and their success. For many, the library is not only a conduit for literacy, but also an avenue through which to conduct a job search and spark a career.

It is my hope that Nashville will stand behind Opportunity Now and help reach the goal of 10,000 Nashville youth employed this summer. The opportunity is now for you to join with us in supporting summer youth employment in Nashville.

Tyson Moore is Nashville market president for Bank of America and market executive at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.


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It's our responsibility as local employers and leaders to ensure that the young adults in Nashville have access to job opportunities that will enhance their financial futures.

Tyson Moore
Nashville market president for Bank of America