Nearly 50 years ago, Robert F. Kennedy put the challenge to “win the future” into context with timeless words: “The future,” he said, “does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather, it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.”
“Every generation,” he added, “helps make its own future.”
In our view – and that, we know, of millions of young people across the nation – truer words could not be spoken today.
Not only do college students, graduate students, and young professionals believe – as Kennedy often put it and as President Obama has emphasized time and again – that the future is not a gift but an achievement, but they also want to act on this belief. Even those who do not dedicate years exclusively to service – and who are students or employed in other capacities – are eager for outlets to push the traditional bounds of service and turn a generation’s boundless energy into imaginative social change. We want to practice pragmatic idealism – and to fill the global inspiration deficit with that sense of passion and purpose that drives greatness.
That’s why we started The Future Project, a new national service initiative that calls upon young Americans to partner with local underserved high-school students and build innovative projects together that change the world. Not only will this mean for those who join our Future Corps – a model inspired by the Peace Corps and Teach for America – the chance to inspire students to discover their passions, strengths, and purpose at a critical moment in their development (which has an astonishing educational impact on classroom performance and future success), but it also presents an opportunity for the volunteers to become inspired agents of change, too.
It’s a win-win – and the possibilities are endless. You and your partner could create a year-long campaign to end poverty in one neighborhood of your shared but still far-too-divided city, put on a performance that explores difficult issues with grace and passion, or start a club that fuses a student’s untapped passion for architecture with your own for politics. Over time, these projects scale – and their leaders emerge with a power for generating change that lasts forever.
You can still sign up to serve in the founding Future Corps at www.thefutureproject.org; it’s only 90 minutes a week – but out of it, volunteers get a life-changing relationship with one student and a transformative Future Project of their own. And although The Future Project launches in Washington, D.C., New Haven, and New York, we are always looking for visionaries to pioneer The Future Project in their own regions. This is your movement as much as it is ours.
At the heart of The Future Project, after all, is a simple idea: that the moment is now for our generation to join together and create the future. In partnership with those students in our own cities who are seeking a personal coach and greater cause most, we can do exactly that.
Andrew Mangino, who has served as a speechwriter to Attorney General Holder and a speechwriting intern to Vice President Biden, is The Future Project’s co-founder and president.