Boston’s Chief of Economic Development, John Barros, joined us and long-term partner Youth Design for a day of interactive and educational activities–leaving Boston’s own Youth Designers empowered and ready to take on their future.


At Youth Designer’s Take Action Day 2014, we facilitated and led a day-long workshop for Youth Design, a leading Boston based nonprofit organization that focuses on addressing critical socioeconomic needs of urban youth. At this year’s workshop we were extremely lucky to host special guest—Boston’s Chief of Economic Development, John Barros. The day consisted of interactive and educational activities, but it was Barros who ultimately left the kids empowered and ready to take on their future.

As part of our long-term partnership with the Youth Design, each year their students participate in Youth Designers Take Action—a poster design competition and series of social issue related workshops led by the Cause Consulting team. Since 2010 the design competition has helped integrate social issues into the program, as students choose a topic close to them and design a poster that inspires action.

After a morning of break-out sessions and a tour of the ICA, Barros arrived at District Hall during a working session with the students around youth employment. Their task was to create messaging and designs that could effectively convince Boston business leaders that our youth are valued employees in the creative economy. Several Youth Design students, embracing their roles as young leaders in the design community, volunteered to share the outcome of the session and their ideas with Barros. The key messages they shared were that business leaders should, “take advantage of [young people’s] passion while it’s burning,” and that, “we [the generation of youth] are teachable…give us a chance.”

After presenting their insights, the Youth Designers gave the floor to Barros. Impressed with the students work, Barros began by thanking the room and went on to discuss his role as the Chief of Economic Development. “My role is to help think about how we can position Boston as the strongest economy in the world,” said Barros. “I absolutely believe that Boston’s youth are valuable in the creative economy and in all sectors of the economy.”


While the day coached the students on creating powerful messaging, Barros had some inspirational messages of his own for the young designers. He stressed the power of Youth Design as an opportunity but advised the students that they should be always be looking for ways to continue excelling. “You are lucky to be in this room but don’t expect to get lucky again. You need to be looking for the next step, the next opportunity, and make it for yourself,” Barros told the students. “I wasn’t the smartest kid in the neighborhood,” he said, “but I had the most chances to be in rooms like these.”

Before leaving, Barros answered questions from the students and spent time learning about their work and aspirations. Moved by the Youth Designers and their stories, Barros felt compelled—in-the-moment—to provide the passionate students with another opportunity. He committed to working with Youth Design and City Hall to create a paid internship for the creative economy. He plans to birth this new job as a position specifically for students from Youth Design. In a day filled with inspiration, Barros was able to give the students pertinent advice and provide a tangible opportunity to enrich their lives, concluding with one simple message, “allow yourself to excel.”

We want to thank John Barros and Youth Design for an incredible day and can’t wait to see the social issue designs this year!

For more information on Youth Designers Take Action Day 2014, read our blog A Social Issue Workshop with Cause Consulting, Youth Design & John Barros


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