Where Youth and Government Meet: Creating an Intersection with Authentic Youth Civic Engagement

November 4, 2013

By Cindy Carlson

Cindy Carlson will serve as a presenter for the interactive seminar, “Authentic Youth Civic Engagement,” at the Congress of Cities on Thursday, November 14, 2013 in Seattle, Wash.

There is a place in nearly every community where the positive passions of young people intersect with the work of local government. From organizing literacy campaigns to seeking solutions to neighborhood violence to mapping safe routes to school or crafting a recycling ordinance, youth are lending their advice, support and energy to cities across the country. And cities are seeing the results.

In some areas of the country, the place where youth and government meet in productive and meaningful ways has not yet been discovered. Although local governments have tried to involve young people in positive activities, leaders in these cities have not made the shift from seeing youth as simply recipients of city services rather than recognizing them as valuable resources. They haven’t implemented strategies that can augment their commitment to the youth of their city to produce positive results. They have yet to adopt a framework for Authentic Youth Civic Engagement, or AYCE.

The practice of including youth in public policy, planning and decision-making is not new. For more than 15 years, NLC has documented and supported the efforts of cities to engage young people intentionally and effectively. This knowledge and insight, collected by NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education & Families in their guidebook, Authentic Youth Civic Engagement: A Guide for Municipal Leaders, will be shared with participants in Seattle at an NLC University leadership training workshop at NLC's Congress of Cities.

Join us on Thursday, November 14th from 9:00 am to noon in Seattle and be part of the growing AYCE movement. Through the words of youth leaders and the collective wisdom of cities across the country, we will explore issues such as:

  • How city leaders can successfully welcome young people into the world and work of local government;
  • What types of opportunities can be created that appeal to youth AND meet the needs of the city; and
  • What does it take to initiate or grow AYCE successfully in your city?

Every city has a corner of committed youth and community need. Come discover yours.

Cindy Carlson is a former department head with the City of Hampton, Va. and coordinator of their award-winning youth civic engagement initiative. As a consultant for NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education & Families, she helped to create the Institute’s framework for AYCE.