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Young Leaders Call for Passage of American Rescue Plan, Urge Electeds to do More for Young People in America

March 4, 2021, WASHINGTON, DCToday, young leaders at the helm of A New Deal for Youth (ND4Y) released the following statement calling for swift passage of the American Rescue Plan, while noting how it still fails to address the specific challenges facing young people in America that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. A New Deal for Youth is a coalition of young adults, called ND4Y Changemakers, who are developing and proposing policies that will positively impact the future of America’s youth. 

Luis J. Hernandez, ND4Y Changemaker, The Gathering for Justice’s National Director of Youth Campaigns and Leadership said: “Young people, particularly those who come from Black and Brown marginalized communities have long faced the realities of economic hardship and declining mental health. In school and community environments that have prioritized policing above all other needs, young people have been denied much- needed resources. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, resources have become even more scarce, and we have had to rely on peer-driven mutual aid efforts to keep afloat and secure basic necessities. These are the conditions that Congress and the Biden administration are charged to repair. With over 10 million students out of school, and young people of color facing brutal unemployment rates — the American Rescue Plan must bring real relief to young people bearing the brunt of this pandemic. We urge legislators to provide PPE, release young people facing this life-threatening pandemic from prison and juvenile facilities, and aggressively aid the needs of youth in the same ways previous relief packages have brought billions in resources to corporations.”

Whitney Lee, ND4Y Changemaker, Youth of Utah Advisory Council said: “Passing the American Rescue Plan is critical for disabled people because it is the only plan that gives stimulus checks to adult dependents, many of whom are disabled. The American Rescue Plan also ends subminimum wages. However, the plan needs to include funding for home-based care. It is also a disappointment that the $15 minimum wage raise was ruled out by the Senate because minimum wage jobs are held largely by marginalized people including disabled, particularly able- bodied neurodivergent people.”

Nia West-Bey, senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) said: “We are pleased to see the House- passed version of the American Rescue plan include provisions that target young people’s needs, such as raising the minimum wage; eliminating the youth and disability subminimum wage; expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to certain college students and young adults who don’t have children or whose children don’t live with them full time; and investing in mental health. However, we are disappointed with the Senate parliamentarian ruling on minimum wage and know that more needs to be done to ensure the short-term needs of young people are also addressed as the country begins to recover. We need a significantly larger investment in mental health.  We need a targeted plan to address youth unemployment and underemployment, particularly for those in communities most impacted by COVID-19. We need protections and increased financial support for young workers in essential jobs. We need expanded access to retroactive stimulus checks for students and immigrant communities. These are the specific solutions that directly speak to young people’s needs. Lumping their challenges together with those that people of all ages are facing will almost guarantee that the solutions won’t be designed for them. Young people are facing real, unique problems. It’s past time for our leaders to listen and respond.”

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