Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks to State Directors of the National Youth Administration.

August 20, 1935

I am glad to see this particular group. We have been looking forward to the initiation of this youth program for a great many years. In previous days groups used to come down here to talk about education, child welfare and various things like that. They had very interesting discussions and they passed very nice resolutions. Later the whole proceedings were bound up and distributed around the country. Everybody went home; and little, if anything, resulted from these efforts.

Our procedure is different. We have asked you here to start something. We have given you fifty million dollars. It is the first time the Federal Government has attempted a great national project of this kind. It is an experiment, but we are going to get something more than mere resolutions out of it. We are going to get action.

It is up to you to see that action is effectively carried out. I am very glad that we have such a fine personnel to start this work. As you know, a very large portion of the money is going to be used to enable boys and girls to carry on their education-boys and girls who could not otherwise do it. But there is also a large amount, very nearly half, set aside for other types of work such as vocational training, the building of playgrounds and the establishment of forums in various places.

The future is going to depend on the success of the experiment. If the experiment is a success, there is not much doubt in my mind that future Congresses will continue the work. For that very reason, therefore, you have a very great responsibility. The success of the program depends, in large part, on all of you. You are building for the future, not only for the coming year.

Figures show that there are more than 2,900,000 young people in families on relief and of these 2,900,000, 1,700,000 are on relief in urban areas and 1,200,000 are on relief in rural areas. In addition to that, out of the total of 2,900,000, half a million are Negroes. Furthermore, less than one-half of all these young people have reached or gone beyond the eighth grade. It seems to me it should be our aim and purpose to secure for these 2,900,000 young people the opportunity to share equally with their fellows the normal blessings of our traditional American life, to be a part of and to have a share in normal family life, in school work and in the better fitting of themselves for jobs and for life work.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks to State Directors of the National Youth Administration. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives