Youth Civic Engagement
Youth Civic Engagement

Authentic Youth Civic Engagement

One of the basics of ensuring your city is meeting the needs of its young people is to actively and authentically engage your local youth in the process. This set of youth engagement tools will help city leaders start or expand these efforts locally.

Authentic youth civic engagement provides young people meaningful opportunities to contribute their experiences, knowledge and solutions to city issues.

To create and sustain authentic youth civic engagement, city leaders and staff can follow three core values:

  • Treat youth as valuable partners in the work of local government;
  • Prepare and support youth to take on meaningful roles in addressing important issues; and
  • Respect and listen to youth.

City leaders may also want to proactively and deliberately avoid symbolic youth engagement that can feel good but risks ultimately alienating youth from civics and government.

The toolkit below includes resources on authentic youth engagement; hosting a youth summit; starting a youth council; participatory budgeting; lowering the voting age for municipal elections; and a self-perception inventory designed to help cities identify their strengths in this arena.

Youth Delegate Program

A youth delegate is a high school student, aged 13 through 18, engaged in a youth council/advisory board or other civic activity. Each year, 250 youth delegates from different states come together to network and attend workshops and meetings at NLC's two biggest conferences. The conference will provide Interactive leadership-building opportunities; Social and networking opportunities with fellow youth delegates, mentors and elected officials; Opportunities to attend workshops and activities; Challenging and inspiring speakers and presenters, and A spotlight on youth voice and youth councils in government!