Poverty is something that everyone may not experience, but it is still a huge issue that people face all around the country.

Here in Erie, the Youth Leadership Institute of Erie organized to have a discussion on generational poverty in Erie and how to address it.

The goal of the gathering on Saturday was to find ways to empower tomorrow’s leaders while helping to alleviate generational poverty in Erie.

Community leaders met at the Susan Hirt Hagen Core building at Penn State Behrend for their annual retreat.

Representatives consisted of leaders from an array of community organizations from Erie that all have the same goal, to provide tools to our youth that will help them break free from what is known as the “doom loop.”

“The youth is going to be the ‘next up’ right? So the people that have been here they understand what’s going on, but I think one providing them that knowledge, but also empowering them to be able to know that there is hope that they can come out of their circumstances,” said Cathryn Easterling, Board Chair of Youth Leadership of Erie.

Tools that they hope to utilize, changing the course of action, are coaching and mentoring opportunities, job training, education, and providing people with an overall sense of hope and purpose.

The event featured a keynote speaker from Buffalo who has worked on similar projects to help improve that cities generational poverty levels.

The guest speaker of the event coming all the way from Buffalo, New York shared with us her personal experiences with poverty and what she’s learned.

“So one of the things that I’ve learned from my personal experiences in poverty is that it can be very sticky. My mom had to work a lot of jobs just to help me and my brother sustain and survive. So she was never able to thrive. She was never able to upskill or be trained for something new until much later in her life,” said Yvonne Dubois, Director of Community Engagement at Tapestry Charter School.

Dubois adds on just a few of many opportunities that the youth will have to impact our community.

“These are people who will grow up and impact the way we live our lives. These are going to be our servers at restaurants. There are going to be bank tellers. These are going to be the people that service us as certified nursing assistants and working in nursing homes,” said Dubois.

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Dubois hopes that strategies of what they’ve implemented in Buffalo will help to reshape the Erie community.