5th Annual Connecting the Dots Summit Held in Chattanooga

This year’s Summit focused on connecting the dots between the “Ready By 21” initiative and local art organizations, social agencies, and interested community members.

Chattanooga is one of five cities chosen to be a part of Ready by 21 SouthEast Challenge:

The Ready by 21 National Partnership is taking Ready by 21 into states and communities around the country. In 2009 – 2010, the partnership is focusing their efforts in the southeast United States in the following communities:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Richmond, Virginia

The City of Chattanooga Department of Education, Arts and Culture in partnership with Allied Arts and the United Way of Greater Chattanooga held this year’s summit on May 20th to “introduce artists, social-service agencies, and community members to the common language of community-based assets,” according to Be Magazine.

The summit included a workshop presented by Leslie Scearce, Executive Director of the On Point organization featuring “40 Elements of Healthy Development” for youth based on research by the Search Institute of Minnesota.

On Point is a non-profit organization started 17 years ago after reports that youth violence, drug abuse and teen-age pregnancy were on the rise in Chattanooga and North West Georgia.     On Point works with 13,000 youth annually to build self-esteem and to empower the young to make positive choices in life.

Melissa Turner, Communications Director for EAC says that this new Ready by 21 initiative is built on the 40 Developmental Assets and that workshop leader, Scearce is one of a few local facilitators certified by the Search Institute.

Corporate Voices for Working Families writes this about the Ready by 21 initiative:

All young people need to be prepared to succeed in college, work and life. But in our communities, only four out of ten young people are ready for a productive adulthood and two in ten are in serious trouble. With effective state and local leaders nonprofits and public structures like schools, community centers, and libraries working together, communities can prepare a competitive workforce, strengthen social networks, support families and help all young people realize their potential.

Ready by 21 is a strategy that helps communities improve the odds that all youth will be ready for work, college and life. It taps the expertise and dedication of diverse leaders who care about children, youth and families, meeting them where they are and helping them chart a course for better outcomes for youth people. Using innovative strategic planning tools developed by the Forum for Youth Investment, Ready by 21 is designed to maximize resources to ensure all young people grow up health and strong, learn skills for today’s jobs, be connected to community and prepared to succeed in college.

Corporate Voices for WorkingFamilies also offers a guide to the new Disconnected Youth Tax Credit:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes a new tax credit for companies that hire disconnected young adults.  Your company may now enjoy a substantial tax credit while at the same time accessing a new talent pool and providing a young adult with an on-ramp to the workforce.

The stimulus bill, which President Obama signed into law last year, added “Disconnected Youth” as a new category under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), amending Paragraph (1) section 51(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.   The IRS has released guidance explaining the new category.

Companies can save up to $2400 for each qualifying employee, so this can add up to significant savings depending on how many qualified young adults are hired.

NPR recently featured a story on Morning Edition entitled, Study: College Grads Unprepared For Workplace,” written by Joel Rose.

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Listen to Workshop highlights with Leslie Scearce:

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