New Generation Initiative
Transforming North Carolina's rural communities through youth and young adult engagement
The North Carolina New Generation Initiative opens exciting new opportunities for rural young people and the communities they live in. Opportunities for young people to become engaged as community leaders … to start businesses … to train for skilled jobs in high-demand fields. Opportunities for communities to learn how to more fully involve youth and young adults in economic and civic life.
The Rural Center announced the initiative at the 2011 Rural Partners Forum in partnership with the governor, lieutenant governor, and 30 program and funding partners. More than 7,000 young people and their mentors are expected to participate in the initiative over the next three years.
Individuals or organizations in North Carolina’s 85 rural counties are eligible to apply for each of the initiative’s four programs:
New Generation Ventures – help for young entrepreneurs
New Generation Careers – grants to create job opportunities
New Generation Leaders – grants to mobilize young leaders
New Generation Communities – training and resources
We know that successful rural communities must have a population of young people engaged in decision-making and actively working to grow their local economies. Yet each year, hundreds of young people move away to attend college, join the military or take a job – and never return to become part of the economic and social life of their hometowns. Many who stay feel disconnected from the mainstream of decision-making and activity.
During 2010-11, the Rural Center took several steps toward understanding the aspirations of rural youth and their perspectives on their communities. We coupled these with an examination of statistical data regarding the well-being of children, youth and youth adults in rural North Carolina. Young and Rural: A Snapshot of Rural North Carolina’s New Generation summarizes the findings.
Building on this research, the 2011 Rural Partners Forum engaged over 650 people in exploring what it means to be young and rural in 2011. The young people who led most of the discussion inspired their elders with examples of entrepreneurship, public service and perseverance.
The North Carolina New Generation Initiative aims to help rural communities transform themselves by fully embracing the promise represented by their young people. It provides $3.6 million in resources to engage rural youth and young adults in the life of their communities and foster the next generation of rural business owners, skilled workers and economic and community leaders. It is a three-year project supported by public and private partners and led by the Rural Center.
It is established on the belief that:
North Carolina New Generation Advisory Council will advise the center on implementation of the initiative, join with other leading programs to explore opportunities to increase youth involvement in community life, and develop a New Generation Action Plan to respond to the challenges facing youth and young adults in rural communities. Leading the council are Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, chair, and N.C. Rep. Carolyn Justice, vice chair.
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The initiative is made possible by the support of public and private funding partners.
By its conclusion in December 2014, the initiative is expected to have
- engaged over 3,700 young people in community improvement
- helped establish 100 business start-ups by rural young adults
- created 150 jobs and provided job placements for an additional 350 young adults
- trained 3,000 local leaders in how to engage young people in the life of their communities
With four distinct programs, the initiative works simultaneously to create jobs, encourage entrepreneurship, build leaders and strengthen communities.
New Generation Ventures makes self-employment an attractive and attainable career option for rural young adults, ages 18 to 30. The program is open to young people who commit to launch their business in one of North Carolina’s 85 rural counties. Ventures supports young entrepreneurs with business counseling, scholarships for business training, networking opportunities and access to new forms of capital. Applications are being accepted now.
New Generation Careers gives rural communities the opportunity to design workforce strategies that cultivate their pool of young talent, while connecting young people to new jobs. It provides grants of up to $100,000 to assist communities that offer employer-driven training and other workforce services that result in jobs for young adults, ages 18 to 30. The deadline for applications has passed.
New Generation Leaders encourages teams of young people to tackle community improvement projects of their own creation. Aided by grants, young people ages 16 to 30 work with established leadership to design and implement a project, immersing themselves in the community's history, culture and economy. Ten grants of $20,000 will be awarded annually for three years. The deadline for 2013 applications has passed.
New Generation Communities offers high-quality resources and training opportunities for people of all ages who seek to more fully engage youth and young adults in economic and community life. Participants receive training on such topics as fostering entrepreneurship and creating a welcoming community. Workshops were held in November 2012 on how to engage youth in the community and in February 2013 on youth entrepreneurship. Learn more. In addition, the Youth Engagement Resource Guide provides information on state and national programs that can aid these efforts. It is available in print format and is incorporated into the online Rural Resource Guide.
Elaine Matthews, senior vice president
N.C. Rural Economic Development Center
4021 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC 27610