This week I had the opportunity and pleasure of keynote speaking before more than 7,000 young leaders, their advocates and parents in Orlando, Florida at the 2012 annual conference of the FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America).
I spoke about their responsibility (fully 90% of these students graduate college, in comparison to the rest of American students that graduate at a 30-70% rate), their opportunity (they are on fire, full of confidence and have their entire lives ahead of them), but also their challenges. As hard as they try to diversify, they are still more than 70% majority and rural in their membership (this is not a criticism, just a fact of how the organization has developed, and its base). The world is increasingly diverse, and our future American leadership must reflect this fact, if America will rise to the occassion of leading the world again well into the 21st century. During my remarks I made the case that all of our DNA is about 99% identical, and yet most of us obsess about the 1/4th of 1% that defines eye color, hair color and texture, skin color and texture and the like. We focus most of our energy on the things that matter the least.
I am so proud to report that this incredible group rose to the ocassion, cheering and encouraging the message of diversity and simularity -- and our one world message and meaning. Most of all, I was thrilled when they cheered after I proclaimed 'America to be the most incredible nation on the planet.' They must believe this more than anyone else, because they are literally our future.
I closed my remarks by challenging all in attendance to join our growing, soon to be announced America 20:20 movement for the re-winning of America through America's youth. I encouraged each attendee to take up the HOPE Business In A Box (powered by the Gallup-HOPE-Index) challenge for their local community, school or group.
The Gallup-HOPE Index makes the case that the 30 million youth, 4th-12th grade represent the bench strength for the playoff game of the rest of our lives. This is our playoff team in the making.
A special thank you to all who stayed around following my speech for the booksigning of and for LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass).
For anyone interested, here is some background on FCCLA
Family, Career and Community Leaders of America is a nonprofit national career and technical student organization for young men and women in Family and Consumer Sciences education in public and private school through grade 12. Everyone is part of a family, and FCCLA is the only national Career and Technical Student Organization with the family as its central focus. Since 1945, FCCLA members have been making a difference in their families, careers, and communities by addressing important personal, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education.
Today over 205,000 members in nearly 6,500 chapters are active in a network of associations in 50 states, including the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Chapter projects focus on a variety of youth concerns, including teen pregnancy, parenting, family relationships, substance abuse, peer pressure, environment, nutrition and fitness, teen violence, and career exploration. Involvement in FCCLA offers members the opportunity to expand their leadership potential and develop skills for life -- planning, goal setting, problem solving, decision making, and interpersonal communication -- necessary in the home and workplace.
To promote personal growth and leadership development through Family and Consumer Sciences education. Focusing on the multiple roles of family member, wage earner and community leader, members develop skills for life through: character development, creative and critical thinking, interpersonal communication, practical knowledge, and career preparation.
- to provide opportunities for personal development and preparation for adult life
- to strengthen the function of the family as a basic unit of society
- to encourage democracy through cooperative action in the home and community
- to encourage individual and group involvement in helping achieve global cooperation and harmony
- to promote greater understanding between youth and adults
- to provide opportunities for making decisions and for assuming responsibilities.
- to prepare for the multiple roles of men and women in today's society
- to promote Family and Consumer Sciences and related occupations
FCCLA is the only in-school student organization with the family as its central focus. FCCLA is a career and technical student organization that functions as an integral part of the Family and Consumer Sciences education curriculum and operates within the school system, and it provides opportunities for active student participation at local, state, and national levels.
FCCLA has a national membership of over 205,000 young men and women in nearly 6,500 chapters. There are 50 state associations including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Since its founding in 1945, FCCLA has involved more than nine million youth. Former members are eligible to become members of Alumni & Associates.
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass) the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum. Mr. Bryant serves on the board of directors of Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation, an NYSE Euronext publicly traded company, and a division of $54 billion Ares Capital.