Enoch O. Ajayi
12th Grade
McKinley Technology High School
District of Columbia – 3rd Place Winner

    There is a common saying that children are the future. It is stated repeatedly by public speakers everywhere. Politicians and other significant figures around the world emphasize the future so much that it has become nothing but redundant, sugar coated words used as a means to gain approval and to lead the public on. In reality, sweet words do not turn a child’s fate from his destiny to be thousands of dollars in debt before he reaches the age of twenty one. The quality of life for citizens in the metropolitan area has deteriorated over time with the burdens of debt, and low economic standings. With unemployment and the cost of living increasing, the quality of life for the citizens of Greater Washington is continually decreasing. As a response to this disheartening issue, young entrepreneurs and the local governments of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia must work together to empower the next generation though business education, business involvement at a young age, and partnerships to build hope and trust. 

    The simple fact is that one cannot send a man into a war without the proper combat equipment and training. The business market is something like a warfront; young entrepreneurs and the local government of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia cannot afford to throw the next generation into the flames of war without the proper equipment. To deal with the issue at hand is a simple proposal. A proposal stating that the local government should work with the department of education and get each school system to instill into the curriculum, a business training class. Economics courses are already available as electives in most school curriculums as of now; a step further would be to have them become required for graduation. Whether one likes it or not, a young person’s economic failure becomes a detriment to the state’s economical standing as a whole. Young professionals and potential entrepreneurs must also play a part in the development of the next generation. Their responsibility to their community and their professional standing puts them into a position to groom the next generation. To put things together, the governments of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia should partner with young entrepreneurs to execute business fairs; like college fairs. The position and professionalism of the entrepreneurs alongside the funding power and influence of the governing powers over the metropolitan areas can combine to build and educated generation; able to stand on its own in the business world thus empowering the next generation. Simple advice like getting and maintaining one credit card rather than getting three and going in debt or getting none and accumulating no credit. Simple business knowledge can propel the next generation into a quality class able to battle issues such as gentrification, unemployment, and debt. 

    The next thing is to bring the younger generation into the business culture a lot earlier in their life and career. Optimistic young business minds are given restricted action in business affairs. With laws in place requiring persons under the age of eighteen to perform business related tasks such as opening non – student bank accounts, or committing to any type of activity on the stock market only with direct authorization from their parent or guardian, they cannot flex their business muscles. This case worsens with only a small amount of parents taking the initiative to get their sons and daughters bank accounts or buy a stock in their name. Age requirements stretch from making bank accounts to buying and selling on internet trade sites. To better quip the next generation to improve the quality of their lives, the government must take action to reduce or remove the age barriers on the economic lives of the next generation. Alongside the government removing these barriers, young entrepreneurs must reach out to younger audiences and influence them to making more correct of better economic decisions. As young minds are introduced to responsibility at a much younger age in the greater Washington area; they are introduces to the practices of illicit activities to obtain income “dirty money” (slang term for illegally attained income). This leads to a lower quality of life; leading to crime, death, and incarceration. The idea of legally making money from a young age through saving, investing, and budgeting will excite the younger generation and give them an alternate path to life. For this reason, the local governments and young entrepreneurs must work side by side to provide programs and resources to educate the next generation in proper business habits to lay a foundation for their future. 

    Finally, though education is an immediate solution to empowering the next generation to improving the quality of life for the citizens of the metropolitan area, there remains a less obvious solution. The governments of the nation’s capital, Maryland, and Virginia should invest in and support young entrepreneurs while encouraging major banks in the area to do the same. This indirectly affects the empowering and development of the next generation because it builds a trust system between young entrepreneurs and the government in such a visible manner that it encourages younger business minds to hope in the future. With the belief that the governments of their states are there to assist and support them in their business undertakings, they begin to come up with creative ideas and problem solving innovations and proposals ready to jump start their economic careers. The current belief in Keynesian economics and the belief in government spending and private sector investment has shown major flaws, it has also reduced the people’s belief in getting loans for patents or business ideas. With this in one’s mindset one cannot see the glimmer of hope or light at the end of the tunnel. Discouraged and de-motivated, young business minds see a low chance of ever being invested in and lose a charge for entrepreneurship. The more the government can work with young entrepreneurs to jump start their businesses, the more they can spur up business ideas and motivation for entrepreneurship within the young, boosting their economic chances and improving the quality of life for them as citizens of Greater Washington. 

    In conclusion, to empower the future generations of Greater Washington, the local governments of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia must work together with young entrepreneurs to educate the future, this investment in the future will safeguard the quality of life for the citizens of Greater Washington for generations to come. Working together to involve the young generation in business practices from childhood, and investing in young entrepreneurs to build trust and motivate young minds to drive towards the business sector and grow as business professionals. “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. The gift of educating the next generation, serves its purpose to improve the quality of life while empowering them with the tools to live by, to be able to stand without someone at your back, or to be able to ride downhill without training wheels. This is what the governments of the Greater Washington can provide and this is how they can influence the next generation and improve the quality of life throughout the D.C. metropolitan area.