Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Engaging Youth in Local Government

The National League of Cities' Authentic Youth Civic Engagement: A Guide for Municipal Leaders offers some important principles for community leaders looking to authentically involve youth in local community change efforts. Our experience working with communities has shown the residents and youth must be critical partners in any efforts to create long-term change. Creating authentic demand in the community involves a mix of approaches, including developing leadership in the community, building strong networks amongst residents and community partners, and mobilizing the community to take action to achieve better results for children and families. Authentic Youth Engagement offers a framework for engaging youth in local governance over the long haul. The framework outlines four critical elements:
  • a setting in which the civic climate of the community is welcoming and inviting to youth and acknowledges the role youth can play in policy and decision making;
  • a structure that meets both the needs of young people and local government;
  • a strategy that offers a range of opportunities and activities through which youth can provide manful input; and
  • support from adult allies from with and outside local government.

The report then offers some guidance on how communities might operationalize the framework. The guide is a helpful resource for communities that are looking to create or expand opportunities for youth to be a part of local decisionmaking.

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