Are you willing to help Millennials overcome daunting challenges so they can become changemakers?

— Tom Sine —

Goods Home Design

Goods Home Design

Last week I invited you to join me in giving thanks for the Millennial generation. The reason I invited you to join me in giving thanks is because a larger share of this generation of 80 million young people ages 18 to 33 want to use their lives to be changemakers. A larger share of this generation than generation X, the Boomer generation or the silent generation want to use their lives to make a real difference in the lives of their neighbors.

Recently Mustard Seed Associates collaborated with the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology in hosting a conversation on the future of the Millennial generation. Early in this conversation, of some 50 educators and students, we celebrated the remarkable number of Millennials who are already at work in new forms of social enterprise and community empowerment.However, we also expressed deep concern because the Millennial generation is facing more daunting economic challenges than any prior generation in the last 50 years.

First, this generation is acquiring much more school debt than any other generation of students who graduated from American colleges and universities. On average each Millennial is graduating with $33,000 worth of debt for their undergraduate education and many accumulating over $100,000 worth of debt for graduate education.

When they graduate they are also discovering that they are facing the highest housing costs of any prior generation. As a consequence a higher percentage of these grads are moving back home to live with their parents. Surprisingly, some recent grads are actually renting closets to live in which would’ve been unthinkable for most of us who graduated in earlier decades. For example, a 23 year old recent grad named Julie is spending $500 a month to rent an actual closet in Seattle.

My great concern is that the double whammy of the highest school debts ever and the highest housing costs are likely to take recent grads who want to be changemakers out of the ballgame. What are your ideas of creative ways to help these grads overcome their challenges so they can more fully invest their lives in making a difference in the lives of their neighbors?

I give many colleges and universities high marks for helping numbers of their grads to find jobs in the aftermath of our recent recession. However, frankly student services, in these institutions, don’t seem to have changed a great deal since I was a dean of students at George Fox University in the early 60s. Virtually the only help we provide students for life after graduation is in locating employment.

Virtually all colleges and universities do forecasting regarding how many students they are likely to attract in the coming decade who will have the needed resources to attend their institutions. But I’ve yet to find a public or private institution that does forecasting regarding how the context into which their students are graduating are likely to change. As a consequence our institutions offer little practical help for seniors to explore nontraditional housing options or to become more skilled in the use of their limited resources to get their lives launched.

What are your creative ideas of practical ways to steward their lives so that they have time to invest in making a real difference in the lives of others? Please send us your creative ideas this week so we can help this generation more effectively launch their lives in these daunting times.