Speaker Ryan meets with Cleveland's at-risk youth

Speaker Ryan meets with Cleveland's at-risk youth

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - One of the leaders of the GOP was introduced Monday to a unique way that at-risk youth in Cleveland are learning about their potential.

Empower Cleveland Youth is about taking kids from challenged backgrounds and giving them the skills to succeed in business and in life.

Deyouna Lassiter, 18, is from East Cleveland and she never considered going to college until a new program changed her perspective.

"A lot of the people in my neighborhood barely make it to college, some drop out," she said. "Some females, they get pregnant at an early age and are in jail."

She didn't want to follow that path, so she joined the program. It pairs kids with mentors and shadow experiences in different professions so they can figure out what they like and are capable of.

House Speaker Paul Ryan talked about the importance of the program to a packed house celebrating the potential impact on students who need help overcoming environmental obstacles.

"The condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life. Right? That's the American idea. That's what we teach our children. But that's not happening. Is it? A lot of kids are slipping through the cracks," he said.

Right now it's a six-week pilot program that started this summer. About 20 kids are funded totally through private donations. Officials hope to expand the program next summer.

By Eric Flack, from WOIO's sister station in Louisville

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