Print Friendly and PDF

The Vision of Youth: Engaging Gen Z in Future Building

Key Takeaways:

  • Of all current generations, Gen Z’ers are predicted to hold the most economic power, reaching $33 trillion by 2030, accounting for more than a quarter of global GDP.
  • Gen Z is the most diverse generation yet with 48% identifying as people of color and 1 in 5 as LGBTQIA+.
  • Gen Z is socially astute, seeking opportunities to create meaningful change for a better world.
  • Mental health and community health are key points of interest among Gen Z.

The panel was moderated by Angelique Power, president and chief executive officer of The Skillman Foundation and consisted of three members of The Skillman Foundation’s Youth Council: Mohammad Muntakim, Logan Newman, and Jeremiah Steen.

Since 1960, The Skillman Foundation has served as a voice for children by investing in the brilliance and power of Detroit youth. The foundation aims to strengthen Detroit’s education system, advance racial justice, and empower Detroit youth.

The three panelists shared their vision for engaging Gen Z in future strategy and planning. Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is authentic and deeply values transparency from those in leadership positions.

“While disrupting the status quo like other generations before, this generation has been wholly shaped by experiences that were once in a century, and in some cases, once in history. This generation wants to do more than talk. They want to put their fingerprints all over the heart of strategy,” said Power. From school shootings to navigating pandemic life, Gen Z is formed by collective experiences unlike generations before.

Despite challenges, Gen Z is a hopeful generation. Gen Z is forward-thinking, already aware of the legacy their actions today will have on their children, community, and planet.

“When I go places, I hold my head high because I represent more than just myself. I represent my ancestors who laid the foundation for me to make sure that I can be one of the youngest speakers at this conference as a young black man,” said Newman.

To retain young talent, Michigan must equitably invest in future generations by establishing youth councils, providing leadership training, and creating opportunities for youth to voice ideas, provide input, and shape social narratives in workplaces and the community.

“There are so many unique ways to invest in young people,” said Muntakim. “We’re not asking for a rebrand of Detroit. We have great resources in the city, great youth in the city. We have to invest in them.”

The panel also discussed the importance of corporations redeveloping clear pipelines from education to internship to career that focus on enhancing skillsets. Additionally, the panel reminded the audience that corporate youth programs are not a check box.

“I am not a decoration,” said Steen, noting the importance of listening to, and trusting, youth voices in the workplace and community.

This session was hosted by The Skillman Foundation.