Equitable development has become a buzzword in the urban planning/community development profession.  Like most buzzwords it can take on several meanings. For us at WHRF, equitable development means that development in our community creates opportunity and benefit for everyone.  These benefits can be created through health, housing, engagement and environmental strategies, but perhaps most importantly through the creation of economic opportunities. There are many tactics that can used to ensure economic opportunity is equal; however there is one in particular you will see us rolling out in the coming months – Youth Employment/Engagement.

 Last summer we conducted several community listening sessions with the intention of learning what the community wants change to look like.  At every listening session, youth engagement was listed as being important to a healthy, thriving community.  Youth engagement was also a need identified during our 2013-2014 Core Safety work in the neighborhood.

Most recently, the concerns around youth employment were reiterated through a survey conducted by the Community Building Institute.  The outcomes were staggering. Nearly one in two (45%) of Walnut Hills young adults are unemployed – a little more than twice that of the overall unemployment rate for all adults in Walnut Hills. These numbers are significantly higher than Cincinnati as a whole (18%) – two and a half times higher.

wh unemployment graph

In an effort to begin reducing these unemployment numbers we are proud to announce that our Youth Ambassador Program is returning for a second year! As part of this innovative program, Walnut Hills youth are employed at neighborhood businesses for 16 hours a week, while one day a week they go out into the community to develop leadership training, engage in service learning projects and participate in community engagement projects. Click here for ways to participate in this exciting program!