The Rockefeller Foundation congratulates WETA‘s documentary, Latino Americans, for winning the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. As the award panel said, the series’ “six fascinating installments traced a people’s history that’s older than the United States itself and showed how Latinos, rendered foreigners in a land their ancestors colonized, are now reshaping it.”
The film paints a compelling portrait of our nation’s future—more than half of newborns today in the U.S. are children of color. Demographers predict that more than half of all youth will be of color before the end of this decade. In fact, 92 percent of population growth in the United States over the past decade came from people of color, with Latinos as the main driver of demographic change, mostly from new births rather than from immigration.
But at the same time, youth unemployment has reached a more than 50-year high in the wake of the Great Recession. At the end of 2013, the unemployment rate for 16-24 year-olds was over 13 percent, more than 5.5 million young people were both not in school and out of work, and millions more were unable to find full-time positions or opportunities that matched their skills or drew on their formal job training or education. These challenges jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of individuals and put the social and economic future of an entire generation—and the nation as a whole—on the line.
Yet, there are employers who are committed to the future of their industries and our nation’s youth. By engaging employers like these, we can create sustainable, systemic solutions to create more new jobs and life-long career opportunities for our nation’s youth. For instance, we have supported National Council of La Raza to allow companies to articulate the value they get from hiring and retaining Latino youth as a means to share this information with even more potential employers.
This work reflects the most deeply felt needs of our nation’s residents. A poll by Center for American Progress and PolicyLink has revealed that a majority of Americans feel that the greatest opportunities from rising diversity are associated with the potential for more economic growth and greater innovation and competitiveness for businesses. Further, Americans strongly support a new equity agenda designed to reduce racial and ethnic inequality and create the conditions for everyone to participate in the 21st century economy.
It is through efforts like these that The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to harness the dynamism of a changing America to create an inclusive economy for our future leaders.