This month, the theme for our blogs is sustainability. That should give me and John an advantage, since sustainability is one of SEEED’s core values. However, I’m still not sure what sustainability is. It’s a slippery term. On the environmental side, sustainability is using resources in a way that meets the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Beyond the environment, sustainability means acting in a way that allows the project or organization to thrive in the future rather than depleting what is there and moving on.
We talk with the students a lot about planning for the future, and it is one of the areas that I see them struggle the most. For many of them, the future is very uncertain. They might not know where they will be living in a few weeks or where they will get a meal tomorrow. If those things are up in the air, it’s hard to get excited about job training or professional certifications. At SEEED, we try to help the students see that their time and skills are important resources that need to be used sustainably. If they stay up all night and have poor health habits, their bodies won’t have what they need in the future. If they jump around from job to job, it compromises their employment in the future.
In contrast, we strive to help the students at SEEED live sustainably by using resources like their time, passion, and skills to build a solid foundation in their lives to begin a career. That’s why we call what we do a career readiness program rather than a job readiness program—a career is sustainable. One of the biggest changes I see in the young adults who complete the program is an interest in their futures. They know that change takes time, but they begin to see the benefit of investing that time in moving down a new path in their lives. After all, the program only lasts nine weeks. At the end of those nine weeks, the real work begins—staying the course even when you don’t have classes every week to keep focused. We strive to create a pathway out of poverty, and we strive to make sure that pathway leads to a sustainable future for youth, for the planet, and for the community.