THE BLOG

Helping Ourselves by Helping Our Teens

06/17/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Everyone wants to realize their full potential. You want it for yourself... and you want it for your children.

It's great if you can afford to pay tutors and coaches to help your teen ace their SATs, raise their GPA, or gold-plate their college application. But how about the millions of under-privileged kids who can't afford that kind of assistance, and whose parents are ill-equipped to advise and guide them through the trials and tribulations of life? Who tells them how to deal with a tough boss, or even how to get started on the right career at a time when unemployment among youth is double the national average?

This is what led me to start SuperFutures.org.

I watched my own Mom -- a single mother of three who worked two full-time jobs as a waitress to make ends meet. Running from one job to the next, putting dinner on the table and trying to make it to her kids' events... I'm pooped just thinking about it.

And while Mom had many skills, she -- like other parents -- had no experience with the basic practicalities of the real world - the harsh realities that every child will encounter after they finish high school or college.

Yes, as a high school student, you can pull yourself up by the bootstraps, as I did. But it sure is a lot easier if you've got experts showing you the ways of the world.

So, on May 1, SuperFutures will hold its first "Discover Your Future" seminar. This event is open to the public but 50 high school students from low-income families in Connecticut will be offered free attendance. These are students who are committed to bettering themselves, who want to get the right start on their careers.

And what better way than by bringing together some of America's leaders and experts from some of the best companies, who can share their experiences and tips in today's global world? Thanks to the Internet, soon these kinds of events will be made available nationwide.

The students will get to hear from Dick Ferguson, a one-time C student who discovered his passion for radio early on and ultimately went on to become one of America's top broadcasting executives. Our Master Career Counselor will lead students through interactive games and working sessions designed to help them discover their college major and career options and then create a Career Action Plan to begin to proactively and confidently build for a successful future.

The day will conclude with Google's Sean Harvey, a frequent speaker who will give an insider's tips into getting hired at Google and the essential entrepreneurial thinking needed in today's economy, whether you're starting your own business or working for one.

As a society, we need to provide real, meaningful advice to these young people who want to climb the business ladder. With the constant automation and exportation of jobs - coupled with financial stress on our educational system - we need to look outside the classroom to supplement learning. When we do, we all benefit through:

  • Innovation - Our young people are more equipped than many of us to solve the world's problems and drive America's competitiveness. Yes, it all starts with being a good student in the classroom, but then they need a platform and guidance to take it to the next level - the working world.
  • Job creation - SuperFutures.org helps young people turn their passions into impact, something 60 percent of students want to do, according to a Harris survey. Whether it's their love for the environment or personal experience with weight loss, students are taught how to translate their interests into a business, charity or project that has societal good. The upshot is they can then use this project to demonstrate their initiative in both college applications and job pursuits.
  • Tax revenues - Of course, people who work contribute to our tax base and reduce the reliance on public assistance.
  • Better job matching - Did you know career mismatch is a44 billion cost to companies according to the ACRNA? By getting students started on their careers now, we help address not only mismatch, but stress and overall happiness as a result.
Last year, I watched as students from our summer Global Leader program -- all members of a local YMCA -- develop a business concept for a new fitness center focused on Martial Arts as a way to get in shape and address women's self esteem.

Today's students are the next generation of leaders but we need to equip them now with the tools, skills and real-world experience that will enable them to have an impact. Not just because they can afford it, but because they deserve it.

To learn more about SuperFutures.org, sign-up here.