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Urban League no longer using 'at-risk' designation for clients
Agency using new term to describe communities and individuals served
 
Published Tuesday, April 23, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

For 35 years, the Urban League of Central Carolinas has been providing services to at-risk individuals, defined as facing economic, educational or social challenges.

ULCC announced earlier this month that it would no longer refer to clients with that term. In a unanimous vote, the board decided to adopt the term “at-opportunity” to describe the communities and individuals served by the agency.

“The change in language is a natural progression of (Urban League’s) empowerment approach,” said ULCC President and CEO Patrick Graham. “Defining families and youth as ‘at–risk’ diminishes their true value and creates a ‘them’ and ‘us’ paradigm that reinforces economic and social barriers to success. Viewing people as ‘at-opportunity’ changes our approach and leads us to view individuals as valuable human capial that can be nurtured and used to make our region and nation globally competitive.”

The adoption of “at-opportunity” language comes at a time when gaps in wealth are the largest they have been in over 25 years and the nation’s competitive edge is waning. The ULCC Board of Directors say contend one solution to both issues is to re-think how challenged communities are approached.

“If we make the economic and social development of low and moderate income communities a priority, we can stimulate untapped economic and educational resources found within the most challenged neighborhoods,” said Chris Payton, ULCC’s board chair. “In other words, one of the solutions to our nation’s future is to create new opportunities through the people that live in these aforementioned communities that will benefit us all.”

The new terminology went into effect April 1 and will be integrated into ULCC’s entrepreneurial, workforce, education and outreach programs for the 5,000 individuals served each year.

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