Today, IEL and the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) hosted the second annual Samuel Halperin Lecture and Youth Public Service Award. The lecture and youth award serve as an ongoing tribute to Sam Halperin, a former IEL president and AYPF founder who dedicated his career to advancing education, workforce, and youth policy.
This year, the lecture was presented by Michele Cahill, distinguished fellow in education and youth development at the National Center for Civic Innovation. Drawing upon Halperin’s seminal report on non-college youth in America, The Forgotten Half: Pathways to Success for America’s Youth and Young Families, Cahill spoke about the need for the education system—particularly high schools—to adapt to our country’s changing economic needs.
Referencing the research of D.C. EPFP alum Anthony Carnevale of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, she noted that workers with a high school diploma or less have been hit the hardest by the recession—and their job opportunities continue to dwindle. Meanwhile, jobs for workers with postsecondary education have increased by 2.5 million over the last several years. While high school graduation rates are increasing, the focus needs to be on preparing students for postsecondary education and future careers rather than just receiving a high school diploma.
Cahill presented a possible solution to this challenge: making youth the center of their education and providing them with opportunities to develop academically, socially, and with specific careers in mind. She spoke of the innovative work of the XQ Institute to encourage education stakeholders to rethink schools and make them valuable for students and aligned with how and what they want to learn.
The youth award was presented to 21-year-old Ebony Rempson, an AmeriCorps member who mentors high school students at Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, DC. Her award-winning essay highlighted her personal struggles, how she became involved in public service and how it developed her leadership skills, and her dreams of open a nonprofit focused on supporting mental health in girls of color. She urged the audience, “Be the person you needed when you were young.”
To learn more about the Halperin Lecture & Youth Public Service Award orto make a donation to support the series, visit the AYPF website.