And they have certainly seen successes. Gillespie talks of a 50 percent drop in crime and a 70 percent drop in vacant buildings in the neighborhood of Idora, a model for the organization.
"Dealing with the challenges one day, one block, one house and one neighborhood at a time," explains Gillespie. "That's the way we think we're going to solve our problems."
At the municipal level, slow gain is the most generous assessment of initiatives' progress. Conversations at Youngstown City Hall often turn to poorly executed building demolitions around town. The Youngstown 2010 Citywide Plan was supposed to be a blueprint for post-industrial revitalization, but was largely abandoned.
Between 2005 and 2010 Youngstown spent over $1 million on studies to improve the city, but most of the studies' recommendations were never carried out. Residents mutter about tax dollars for big business and white-collar corruption.
Perhaps because of its role as poster child for the pitfalls of the modern American economy, President Obama cited Youngstown and its Ohio's National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in his 2013 State of the Union Address, part of a plan to create innovative manufacturing hubs across the country "where businesses will partner with the Department of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs."
Read MoreUS manufacturing boosted to 3-year high by new orders, employment
Since rebranded as America Makes, the institute focuses on developing a network to advance the capabilities of 3D printing in the US. It operates out of a modern-looking office in a historic building near Youngstown State University.
In Youngstown, opinions vary on the conventional jobs available to at-risk (rather than college-educated) young people.
Dr. Laura Meeks, president of Eastern Gateway Community College in Youngstown, sees her goal as getting her students into training programs and then vocational jobs, where she says young people can earn good salaries as welders, pipe layers and as truck drivers. Knowing a trade as a route to stable employment as opposed to the often-criticized "disposable" attitude of service industry work.
Economists Russo and Linkon see the pressures of globalization creating this vulnerable young demographic across industries and across America.
"[W]e see the whole country experiencing the kinds of struggles that places like Youngstown and its sister cities around the nation know all too well. Thousands of American communities are facing economic hardships that could last a generation or more."
The 20th century employment model based upon domestic production of goods no longer exists in the Rust Belt. And as globalization and the service sector surge forward, the experiences of 21-year-old Bowman will be shared by millions more young people in the US and across the globe.
Bowman says his dream job is to be a truck driver. Traveling back and forth across the country, just him and the open road a long way from Youngstown, Ohio.
"Yeah, that would be sweet," he says, a grin spreading across his face.
--By The Global Post