Saturday, March 12, 2016
Resident Training Centers of the National Youth Administration
(National Youth Administration workers at a Resident Training Center, ca. 1938. Photo from a WPA report.)
During the New Deal, the National Youth Administration (NYA) had several hundred Resident Training Centers, spread across nearly all the states. Thousands of unemployed young men & women lived and worked at these sites (for 3-6 months), and learned about agriculture, construction, hospital work, home nursing, home economics, auto mechanics, and more. Also, in addition to room & board, free training, and free classes, the resident-worker-trainees received about $8 per month for personal needs (about $136 today). One can also imagine the friendships, the networking, and the restoration of hope that occurred at these sites. (See, Works Progress Administration, Report on Progress of the WPA Program, June 30, 1938, pp. 63-64)
It would be hard to replicate the NYA Resident Training Centers today because, generally speaking, we do not possess the courage, creativity, and compassion that existed during the New Deal. Too many politicians, and too many of their supporters, simply point their fingers at others and say, "You're lazy!" - and that's the extent of their analyses of the problems of unemployment and poverty. When you have that kind of mentality shaping public policy, you're not going to get Resident Training Centers, at least not on a scale necessary to solve national problems, e.g., the extraordinarily high rate of unemployment for young Americans, especially young African Americans.