Policymakers, government officials, and community leaders have been concerned about the plight of distressed and poverty-stricken urban communities for decades. Studies found out that concentrated poverty puts disadvantaged kids in difficult situations. Some of these situations are the lack of academic opportunities, unemployment, street crimes, violence, teen pregnancy, gangs, and drug use. The longer they stay in these neighborhoods, the worse the impact is on them.
It’s a cycle that has to end. This brings the spotlight to community leaders who must find a way to build the capacities of these low-income neighborhoods. From training families in different skills to giving children a place where they can develop their talents, communities play a huge role in empowering lower-income neighborhoods. What are these activities and training programs that can help communities?
Turning Skills and Hobbies Into a Small Business
E-commerce websites like Etsy were built on the back of small business owners. The people who sell goods here are stay-at-home parents, senior adults, and teenagers. They sell anything from vintage jewelry to wedding gowns to children’s toys. It’s a marketplace for small businesses that do not have the resources to reach bigger markets.
Community leaders can tap these types of websites to empower their members. It can start a program that teaches community members to make personalized items. This is a huge market right now. It doesn’t take much to teach people how to engrave on metal, wood, and other materials. All you need is a laser machine to start teaching them how to create designs and engrave names.
Empowerment Through Technology
You will be surprised to know that a lot of lower-income neighborhoods are technologically behind. This means that some older generations don’t even know how to write, send, or access an email. They are way behind when it comes to data entry. Some don’t even have any idea about social media and how convenient the internet is.
That’s why it’s important to empower them with the knowledge to use these technologies. The lack of opportunities for these neighborhoods comes from the fact that they don’t have access to knowledge and information. If you can open up these opportunities, they can better arm themselves with knowledge.
Sports Activities for Kids
You don’t need LeBron James to teach the kids the value of sports. There are surely local basketball players who can spend their summers teaching kids the fundamentals of the sport. You can also ask local high school coaches to spend at least two hours every weekend with the kids from inner cities. Studies showed that sports are the best way to get kids off the street.
Several athletes already shared their stories about how sports made a difference in their lives. This is especially true for athletes who came from poor families and low-income neighborhoods. They found solace in playing sports. It took them off the streets and put them on the field. It’s also what got them college scholarships in the first place.
The problem in low-income neighborhoods is not only the lack of opportunities but also the lack of knowledge on how things work in the real world. Many of these communities don’t even know how to apply for a job, or even what skills employers are looking for. That’s why it is also important to arm them with career-building skills — from writing resumes to acing job interviews to developing problem-solving strategies.
These skills alone will make them more comfortable to look and apply for jobs. Training them in these essential skills will make them competitive in the market. The more they learn, the more that they will try to seek opportunities that will take them out of disadvantaged communities.
Learning Financial Literacy
These communities aren’t only experiencing income disparities because of the lack of opportunities. They are also not adept at financial literacy. Community leaders can invite financial managers to help teach these communities how to handle their finances. Even people who are earning less can gain financial independence if they know where to put their money.
Even though low-income neighborhoods make a significant economic contribution to the economy, their financial wellness lags way behind. The key is to teach them financial literacy, which covers topics in earning, consuming, saving, debts, insurances, and risks. Interestingly, this does not only apply to low-income communities. When it comes to financial literacy, the more adept you are at it, the better the financial future you are going to have.
Getting people out of low-income neighborhoods also depends on the support the members will receive from the community and the government. While there is no perfect solution to the problem, the skills-training programs aim to empower these communities to seek better opportunities. The more they have these necessary skills, the more that they will work hard to get out of any dire situation they find themselves in.