Millennials are the products of a generation who had to fight to survive. Our parents’ fight enabled us to receive much more than we ever had to give. We are the generation of hand-ups and hand-outs. We are a generation of scholarships and fellowships. We are the generation of “I’ll take that sushi with low-sodium soy sauce.” We are the generation of looking to Bey and Jay, Drake and Kanye, the way our parents looked at civil rights leaders and activists. As many of us in our 20s and 30s enjoy a life of bottle popping and unlimited mimosa Sunday brunches, have we somehow forgotten about giving back?
I have been building my civic career for more than 10 years. In that time, I’ve come to notice a consistent trend: an overwhelming number of people working in our communities don’t look like the people being served. Though it should not matter the color of a helping hand, to see the face of someone that looks like you helping instills a sense of uplift and encouragement that only we can give to one another.
Young urban professionals have a lot riding on our shoulders. We are expected to win. We are expected to take The Dream and make it a reality. We are expected to be the change. However, many of us may be waiting to “get our money right.” We may be waiting for more free time. We may even be waiting for “better” titles to feel like we can make an impact in our community.
This is the stage of the game where not only can we win professionally; we can win civically too. Now is the time to begin to groom ourselves to win through social investment, philanthropy and community service.