There is extraordinary need in urban cities. There is a widening gap between the rich and poor, and we are watching the elimination of the middle class in our world. Basic human needs like housing, education, and access to healthy food, or even grocery stores and banks, are no longer rights for citizens. Strategically focusing on causes that are both preventative and solution-oriented will help us affect change in New York and beyond.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in our world today, and the problem is right here in the United States. 70% of women who are trafficking are trafficked into the commercial sex industry (strip clubs, massage parlors, porn sets, etc.) 40 million adults in the US regularly visit porn sites. Through Treasures and other partnerships, we can make a direct impact into the lives of victims, and through workshops, trainings, and outreach, we can raise awareness, and equip community leaders to affect change.
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can use to change the world.” It has been more than 60 years since Brown vs. Board of Education was passed, and yet we still are seeing many schools remain separate and unequal. Nearly 800,000 students (predominately black and latino) were enrolled in schools where 20% of the teachers didn't meet all the requirements for a state license. We believe that the education you receive should not be dependent on the neighborhood where you live. With a focus on disparities in the education system, we can level the playing field for kids, teens and adults through programming and partnerships.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, and is the only country that will place both youth and mentally ill people on death row. The prison population has grown from 300,000 to 2.3 million in the last 40 years, and there are over 7 million people in the U.S. prison system. The racial and economic disparities are staggering, and we are facing a national crisis in the issue of mass incarceration. Through federal and state laws, those formerly incarcerated can be legally denied the right to vote, receive government benefits, gain lawful employment, and receive affordable housing, making the recidivism rate higher than 50%. Most incarcerated for a non-violent crime, and families are being torn apart through prison pipelines established within the unseen structures of our society. Through prison chaplaincy, mentorship, career workshops, support for reintegration, and bridge building between law enforcement and the community, we help reduce this injustice.
The gap between youth and parents is widening through digital media, single parents, declining school systems in less economically successful neighborhoods, and high cost of living in urban cities, which means both parents work long hours. Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor. Through mentorship, along with education, outreach events and artistic workshops, we can begin to close the gap and infuse youth with hope for their future beyond what the media promises (fame, money, etc.), but is unable to deliver.