Eric Green

Founder and President of Everyone's Youth United

When Eric Green organized Everyone's Youth United in 1999, the mission was simple: Give idle kids something to do. Now, the organization can boast a 2-story building in Childs Park (bought with city grants), a full staff (with health insurance!) and even its own marching band. Green says it was his unique formula that attracted hundreds of area youth to his program: offer comprehensive arts training in dance, videography and hip-hop while requiring participants to take tutoring and life-skills classes. In addition to the 50 kids a week in the after-school program, EYU touches hundreds more through events like the upcoming Bay Area Idol talent show competition. Here's Green on:

The importance of teaching music and the arts:
"They watch MTV and BET, but they don't know what's behind the scenes. That's where the money is at. That's where the professional jobs are."

What area youth struggle with the most:
"Reading and math. And there are FCAT issues. A lot of them come in knowing music. Things like that, they're quick to learn. It's the other stuff that give them problems — their academic struggles."

The difficulty of changing kids' destructive habits:
"Take the kids with their pants down. Did you know they sell pants that only hang down? We sell it and tell them don't wear it. The mixed messages have them confused."

The problem with hip-hop today:
"I don't like a lot of rap. I grew up with Russell Simmons, who made rap. I compare it to Gremlins. You have a cute little gremlin. The water hits it and out pops these inner demons. But do you blame the cute little gremlin? Rap used to be a cute little gremlin."

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