This week, on the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, many are debating the effects of this major government initiative. Much of the debate points toward the future and what role the government should play in fueling opportunity. Yet, this discussion misses the fact that so much important antipoverty work nowadays is taking place outside government, in the charitable sector.
The $316 billion Americans gave to charity in 2012 was, adjusted for inflation, about 2½ times the amount contributed in 1972. For a glimpse of how this influx of private money is being effectively used to combat inequality, consider the programs carried out by Genesys Works.
With sites in Chicago, Houston, the Twin Cities, and the Bay Area, its principal goal is to enhance the life chances of low-income high school students. Youth are given the opportunity to work in internships at major corporations during their senior year in high school. After an 8-week intensive training program, they’re then placed at a company where they learn an array of hard and soft skills. This experience enables them to discover that they can succeed as professionals in the corporate world, a model that other nonprofits like Year Up have also proven works.