State Municipal League Youth Council Resources
Through its Public Engagement and Collaborative Governance initiative, the Institute for Local Government (ILG) - which is the nonprofit research and education affiliate of the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties - has created a series of briefing papers for California youth commissions.
These papers provide offer ideas and suggestions for ways youth commissions can take action to address specific issues in their local communities. The first briefing paper outlines specific steps youth commissioners can take to assist groups that enroll children in low- or no-cost health insurance programs. Briefing paper #2 focuses on how youth commissions can address climate change, and paper #3 explores opportunities to engage youth in local planning decisions.
ILG has also produced a a youth engagement website with a roster of California city and county youth commissions, resources for youth commission staff and members, and city examples; a tri-annual e-newsletter for municipal staff who work with youth councils and commissions and others interested in youth civic engagement in California; a series of articles on civic participation in LCC's Western City magazine; and web dialogues for youth commission staff and participants. The ILG website links to a how-to guide on Engaging Youth created by the Youth Service Providers Network and the Sierra Health Foundation.
The Florida League of Cities (FLC) website highlights FLC's numerous civic engagement programs, including a Guide for Creating a City Youth Council. In his first speech as FLC president in August 2008, Wellington Vice Mayor Carmine Priore made it his presidential priority to promote civic education and encouraged cities to create youth councils to educate the next generation. The FLC guide serves as a "road map" for others wanting to start similar programs. FLC also holds a Youth Council Program at its annual conference. The North Carolina Civic Education Consortium provided a template for this document, and youth councils in Dade City, West Palm Beach and Destin, Fla., as well as Greene County, N.C., provided additional information.
The Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) has produced a toolkit CD for its members to help them promote youth participation in local government. The AIC Youth Engagement and Participation Toolkit, created in partnership with the mayor of Caldwell, Idaho, compiles a broad range of information and resources on how to develop a mayor's youth advisory council, other strategies for engaging youth in local government, funding opportunities, research on youth civic engagement, sample youth council PowerPoint presentations, and links to youth council application forms, state and local policies, resolutions, bylaws, and more than two dozen state and local youth council Web sites. The AIC website also links to NLC's City Platform for Strengthening Families and action kit on Promoting Youth Participation.
The League of Kansas Municipalities (LKM) believes that civics education is the foundation of an active and informed citizenry. LKM's website links to a number of programs designed to aid teachers in teaching students about local governments in Kansas and to assist educators in meeting the state's civics standards, including an interactive coloring book for third grade classrooms, an "If I Were Mayor..." essay contest for seventh graders, and a book on Local Government in Kansas for seventh and eighth grade students.
The Michigan Municipal League website has a Youth Connection page that connects municipalities with organizations that serve youth, other municipalities implementing youth programs, and MML-generated information regarding youth and government. The page includes links to resources created by America's Promise Alliance and Youth On Board, a spotlight on successful Michigan youth councils, sample ordinances for allowing youth participation on local boards and commissions, and a white paper to help developers of curricula on local government in Michigan.
The Mississippi Municipal League has produced a five-page, step-by-step guide for member cities interested in forming a Mayor's Youth Council. The guide offers tips for engaging teens in youth council activities, as well as additional ideas for involving youth in local government. The guide also provides a checklist of questions to keep in mind on issues such as youth council membership, recruitment, application and selection, and roles and responsibilities. MML also devotes a page on its website to its various youth programs, which include a youth committee, statewide youth leadership summit, and a youth track at its annual convention.
The League of Oregon Cities (LOC) website links to a 2003 LOC publication profiling youth programs across Oregon, as well as resources for youth advisory councils, tips for involving youith in local government, sample ordinances and bylaws for establishing youth commissions and links to local youth council pages.
The formation of youth advisory commissions in cities across the state is a priority of the Texas Municipal League (TML) Board of Directors. In 2003, then-TML President Jackie Levingston championed the issue, and today more than 60 Texas cities have programs that involve youth. This initiative provides cities with energetic volunteers for civic projects, gives city leaders a fresh prospective on issues challenging our cities, and creates a sense of accomplishment for our youth.
TML supports city youth programs through its annual Texas Youth Advisory Commission Summit, and its website includes links to brochures, application packets, and bylaws developed by local youth councils, as well as resources produced by youth councils in Caldwell, Idaho, and Portland, Oregon. The site also links to an article on "25 Ways City Officials Can Help Youngsters Learn About Local Government."
Regional Forums on Authentic Youth Civic Engagement
With funding from the Surdna Foundation, the YEF Institute worked with state municipal leagues in California, Colorado, Minnesota, and North Dakota to host a series of youth civic engagement forums in 2008-09. These forums brought together local elected officials, youth leaders, and other key community stakeholders to help develop a framework for how cities can promote authentic youth civic engagement.
Forum discussion informed the developed of a YEF Institute publication that offers a step-by-step guide for local leaders who want to create meaningful opportunities for youth participation in local government. "Authentic Youth Civic Engagement: A Guide for Municipal Leaders" is enriched by examples from communities with robust youth civic engagement initiatives and complemented by a broad array of tools and resources to help cities and towns engage young people in local policy, planning and decision-making.
The guide is informed by a year-long process in which the YEF Institute gathered and synthesized the knowledge and expertise of more than 300 youth development experts, academics, municipal leaders, community organization partners and young adult and youth leaders from across the nation through a series of focus groups, surveys and interviews conducted in 2008-09, including the state league forums.