DMI Blog

Tsedey Betru

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You, Ask How to Impact Policies that Impact You

Today's New York Times featured a front page article warning that "Unfilled City Manager Positions Hint at Future Government Gap." It seems that the aging of the baby boomers, who were greatly influenced by JFK's "ask what you can do for your country" appeal, is creating a supply shortage of qualified city managers in many small cities.

Is this true? I mean, it is certainly true that our parents, the baby boomers, out- number my generation and today's young generation. But we are certainly no less inclined or less in need of good paying jobs with rewarding responsibilities. The NYT cites a "demographic tsunami" as the problem: far more managers retiring than young people to replace them. But youth unemployment was still 10.6 percent in 2001, forty years since we first heard these famous words. For African American youth, the rate was as high as 31.6 percent in 2006. So, maybe the gap lies in our ability to inspire and prepare our youth for these roles, but not in their numbers or talent. In other words, where's our JFK speech?

Frank Benest, the City Manager of Palo Alto is quoted in the article, saying that "the good news is, if you do the research, they (young people) do want to contribute to their country. But they don't make a connection between their values and working for the government, so they work for nonprofits or volunteer."

I couldn't have said it better, Mr. Benest. Enter DMI Scholars.

DMI Scholars The 2007 version of JFK's famous inaugural battle cry for public service. We are cultivating the next generation of Legislative Directors, Issues Directors, Policy Analysts and Strategists that fuel the progressive movement with new ideas and effective advocacy. Granted, DMI is a think tank led by young people who want to drive public policy, so this program focuses on training young, sharp progressive activists from diverse communities to enter the public policy field. But we are a critical element of the progressive movement, harnessing the energy and talent of young progressives today toward affecting reforms on many levels.

It's time to update the 1961 message that inspired thousands of our parents to become activists to one that will inspire thousands more in 2007: activism through public policy. We created DMI Scholars to build a farm team of young leaders bringing their activism to public policy careers in government, think tanks, campaigns and advocacy.

Our first Summer Institute, an intensive "public policy 101," will take place in NYC this July-August. DMI Scholars will get to network with current professionals on the front lines, fighting for fair and just policies. And then they will be placed in internships across the nation.

Apply to DMI Scholars today, tell a college sophomore or junior about it.

Tsedey Betru: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 4:26 PM, Jan 11, 2007 in Employment | Progressive Agenda | Progressives | Youth | activists
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