As part of NLC's continuing efforts to promote youth participation in local government, municipal officials are encouraged to bring youth (ages 15-18 years old) with them to both NLC conferences as youth delegates.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about youth delegate participation at NLC conferences (Congressional City Conference and Congress of Cities).
1. Should youth attend the conferences?
Yes. The conferences offer valuable opportunities for youth to learn more about local government. In addition, youth offer a unique perspective to the municipal leaders at the conference. Youth delegates will interact with and learn from both youth and adults. They will return to their hometown energized with new ideas and strategies.
2. What activities are included in the youth track of the conferences?
The conferences are for municipal officials to which youth are invited as full delegates and representatives of their communities. As such, there is no special youth track. Youth attend the same workshops, meetings, and general sessions as local elected officials. Please see the confernce program for further details on these events. However, there are several "youth-focused" sessions.
3. How many youth usually attend the conferences?
Each year, we expect about 100 youth to attend the conferences; there are usually about 3,000-4,000 adults.
4. Is there an age restriction?
Youth must be 15-18 years old and/or sophomores, juniors, or seniors in high school to participate as youth delegates. They receive a "youth delegate ribbon" and a conference registration bag, and they are eligible to participate in the youth delegate events (youth orientation, youth forum, and youth social, etc.), as well as other events open to all conference delegates.
Youth under age 15 are not considered youth delegates. They may be attending the conference with their parents, but they are not considered youth delegates and will not receive conference bags or yellow youth delegate ribbons and are not eligible to participate in youth delegate events.
5. How many youth can each city bring?
We suggest bringing at least two youth, as it is often easier for youth to take advantage of this conference if they are with another peer from their city. You may want to bring at least one adult chaperone for every five youth.
6. Who is responsible for the youth delegates at the conferences?
The adult chaperone or city official bringing the youth is responsible for the youth throughout the entire conference.
7. Who should be a chaperone?
We encourage local elected officials to be chaperones when possible, which will build solid relationships between the youth and these leaders. When this is not possible, city staff responsible for the local youth council or senior parks and recreation staff are examples of the city leaders who could be chaperoning the youth delegates.
8. What are the roles of the youth delegate and the adult bringing the youth delegate?
Youth delegates come to NLC conferences as representatives of their municipality. Youth participate fully in workshops and general sessions - listening, asking questions, and on occasion serving as panelists. They network with each other and provide new perspectives to adults. The hope is that they will leave each conference with a better understanding of how cities operate and with ideas about how to improve their communities upon returning home.
For adults, supporting young people's participation means not only arranging logistics - like making travel and housing arrangements - but also providing support and encouragement of their participation. One step chaperones may take is to facilitate a meeting between the youth and the local officials who are in attendance. Chaperones may also want to go through the conference program together before arriving on-site, debrief with youth and adults at the end of each day, and encourage youth to speak up throughout the conference.
9. What is the registration fee for youth?
Youth delegates between the ages of 15 and 18 receive a discounted registration fee of $120.
10. What is the registration fee for chaperones?
Chaperones who would not otherwise attend the conference receive a discounted registration fee of $120. This discounted fee is not available to elected officials, city managers, or others who would ordinarily attend the conference.
11. Is there a youth rate for hotel accommodations?
There is no special hotel rate for youth, although allowing youth to share rooms, in accordance with hotel guidelines, may help to reduce the cost. For more information, please contact Experient Inc., the agency managing housing and registration, at (866) 229-2386 or (301) 694-5243 or NLC@experient-inc.com.
12. How can cities pay for sending youth to the conferences?
Each year, communities use a number of strategies to pay for youth delegates' attendance at NLC confernces. Some cities allocate municipal funds. In return, youth delegates may present their conference experience and what they learned to the city council. Other cities request support from businesses, the school district, or civic groups (such as the League of Women Voters, Chamber of Commerce, or Rotary Club). Some state municipal leagues will provide scholarships for youth delegates. Parents and youth also help defray costs through donations and/or fundraising activities such as car washes and bake sales.
13. Which cities usually send youth to the conferences?
Cities of different sizes and from various parts of the country send youth to this conference. In recent years, officials from cities such as Lynchburg, Va., Waco, Texas, Newark, N.J., Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Ottawa, Kan., have brought youth delegates to the Congress of Cities.