YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – We’ve been bringing you discussions with Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown on the underlying issues that are contributing to street violence in the city. Some topics include budgeting, poverty, crime prevention and infant mortality. Tuesday, we are looking at education.
Education is a pathway for people to become productive members of society, and Mayor Brown understands the need for educators.
“The educator — I need you. CEO Jennings and soon-to-be Superintendent Jennings — we need to have a strategic plan with the city and education and how does that play. One of the things I want to make sure of is that I don’t want to just give kids in the Youngstown City Schools just a summer job. I want to give them all-season jobs for a career,” Brown said.
About 84% of the population of Youngstown has a high school diploma or GED. That’s not a bad number when you’re talking about economic development.
“You take that 84% and figure out what’s the workforce and ask what is needed for the next year? Is it 3D printing, sustainable energy? We’re talking about wind, solar, all those things that are happening now. How can we take that 84% and translate that to individuals to have a career, not just a job?” Brown said.
Brown talked about the electric vehicle industry and Ultium Cells in Lordstown and what training needs to happen for those jobs so that workers are ready.
“We need to make sure YSU and Eastern Gateway are making sure that they’re educating those individuals when they come out with that 84%,” he said.
The mayor’s role is to look at the bigger picture and be engaged for the future citizens of Youngstown. Quality income and quality of life all impact crime rates.
“The best social program out there for an individual is employment. You get an individual employed, get where they can have money in their pocket, they can feed their family and have a retirement plan. Many of our young men and women don’t even think about retirement age. We want them to get past today and start thinking about the future,” Brown said.
Having a population that doesn’t see itself living to retirement age is an unfortunate challenge. Brown said even looking to the next five years is too far off for some.
“I’ve stopped to ask, what do you want to do in the next five years or two years? Many of them don’t see their plan of action. That’s why we want to put them together with our CIRV program, with some of our workforce development programs out there and say here’s what you can be. Here is what you can be doing in the next two years. Here is how much money you can make. Here’s how you can be taking care of your family in the next two years,” Brown said.
For those not in school, there are various opportunities. Employment is the biggest one.
“If you are not in school right now, we have employment opportunities or it’s workforce training. I say that because that’s going to be the key for us,” Brown said.
Another challenge is mental health. Brown said many families are suffering from PTSD. It’s something that can be generational.
“If you’re the fourth generation — you had a father or a brother or cousin who died from gun violence or you witnessed gun violence or domestic violence, and if that continues from generation to generation — that translates into the household and the social dynamics that we need to deal with. So, those individuals out of school still deal with social issues. We got to continue to work with them,” he said.