Kempner and JBJ have visited New Orleans, Atlanta, and, on Monday, Houston visiting with “disconnected youth”; teens and young adults who aren’t in school, lack a high school diploma, and/or are unemployed.
“Our job is to identify programs that are best practices and find commonality among those programs,” Kempner told us. By finding out what makes a successful program successful, they hope to replicate those programs nationwide.
“There are so many well-meaning programs, but many are not reaching their full potential,” Kempner said.
All 24 members of the Council (the First Lady is an honorary chair) are conducting these tours and will be presenting their recommendations and findings in a final report that will go to President Obama. In some cases, Kempner said, the problem can be as simple as not enough promotion of the available programs. In Atlanta, he says, there’s already a proposal in city government to make a 1-800 number available to correct that.
In other cases, the problems are much deeper, involving incarceration, broken homes, and other issues.
“Frankly, those sessions were life-changing,” Kempner said.
Kempner describes Bon Jovi as a “world-class philanthropist” who is “deeply involved” with issues affecting families with economic troubles through his JBJ Soul Foundation. He’s definitely been an attraction for the local presss (a quick Google news search will reveal that) and Kempner calls him an “absolute partner.”
But there are challenges, like the federal rules and regulations that have to be followed. Still Kempner says of greatest importance during the tour is to “make sure you’re not taking advantage of these young people,” but rather to share their message.
The final stop on the tour will be New York City on May 24.