How to fight 42 percent unemployment with trash and art

Lorenzo Dente, 20, lives in the tough Italian suburb of Scampia, on the outskirts of Naples. It’s a city plagued with crime, drugs and an unemployment rate of 42 percent.

Dente didn’t want to become another jobless youth, so he joined a local program that teaches tech skills and entrepreneurship to low-income young people. Its goal: Help them build a business, based on an easy solution to an everyday problem.

Dente decided he wanted to reduce crime and the trash littering Scampia’s grim high-rises. He and a team created a program called “Clean Up and Innovate,” in which people pick up trash and recycle materials to make lamps, boxes, art and other objects. Then they market and sell the recycled goods.

“Many young people throw garbage on the street, and many of these materials could be recycled into urban artwork,” Dente says. He also learned how to build a website, crowd-fund and sell goods online.

Funding for the youth program came from Microsoft YouthSpark, a global initiative that creates educational opportunities for young people. It helped Dente shape his goal of beautifying his city and giving people a path besides crime.

“The program showed me that when you see a problem, you can find a solution,” he says.

Learn more about Dente on Microsoft’s Instagram page, a celebration of people who break boundaries to achieve goals.

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff