Daniel Fairley Talks About Role as Charlottesville's Youth Opportunity Coordinator

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After spending a year studying achievement gaps in the City of Charlottesville, its Youth Council presented the idea to City Council to hire a youth opportunity coordinator. Councilors accepted the recommendation and hired someone after getting funding last July.

The position has actually been six years in the making.

The city got a grant in 2012 to study black male achievement in the area. It has slowly been working towards creating and funding a solution for the city's problem areas.

Daniel Fairley started as the youth opportunity coordinator for the City of Charlottesville in December.

“No one I've spoken with has been like, ‘oh my gosh, I can't believe you have this position. Where is the white male achievement coordinator?’" Fairley said.

NBC29’s Madison Carter sat down with him to ask why it was necessary for Charlottesville to employ someone in this role.

“With statistically black men being the most vulnerable people and susceptible to all types of negative influence and media and everything, having a person that's targeted towards that is going to help out the greater-Charlottesville community,” Fairley explained.

Finding the right person was the first key to achieving the goals set by the department. First, see the achievement gap in schools decrease.

“So, hooking kids up with tutors or whatever resources they need to help them achieve,” said Gretchen Ellis, program coordinator.

Next, work to have the employment gap shrink, as well.

“We want to see young, black men earning a self-sustaining wage,” Ellis said.

Lowering the number of black and brown men in the criminal justice system is the third objective.

“If you were to follow a black kid and follow a white kid around I  think that statistically you'll see the same amount of trouble they get into, it’s just who gets caught, who gets called the police on, and who is the person that's just like, 'oh, I'll just talk to your mom about it, don't worry,’" said Fairley.

And finally, changing the narrative of these men in entertainment and news media.

“The vast majority of black boys and young men are doing well in our community. They're achieving in school, they're graduating, they're graduating with advanced diplomas, but that's not what people see when they – people - see when they look at our community,” Ellis explained.

The work to change the media narrative is taking shape in a film project by the Youth Coordinator Office. Eight to 10 boys will be creating a movie that showcase black men in the area in a positive light.