Civic Engagement activities and programs involve youth leaders in improving their community while developing themselves and their capacity to become agents of change. Activities range from roundtable discussions and participation on public boards and commissions to community organizing and public-awareness campaigns. Youth build their understanding of the social and political issues that interconnect us all and disadvantage some. This knowledge is then used to affect systems change and transform communities.
Rise Up Team
The Rise Up team is a group of YU members who have overcome significant challenges to enroll in post-secondary education and begin preparations to turn their passion for community advocacy into a career. Rise Up members receive extensive training to carry the voice of youth in public policy and planning processes. Trainings include:
- Community organizing techniques
- Project management
- Meeting facilitation
- Public speaking
- Professional networking
- Business writing
- Campaign design
The Leaders in Action program is a service learning class that focuses on consciousness raising and developing projects to address issues that youth are facing in their community. Leaders in Action has 50 participants each year. Five youth members serve on boards and commissions, 24 youth regularly attend community meetings, and in 2010, we registered 100 new young voters.
LeaderSHIFT is an intensive, yearlong intervention that targets high-risk youth at the epicenter of local violence, those active in conflicts, and those with a history in the criminal justice system to both build their personal agency and harness their influence over the community culture.
LeaderSHIFT moves high-impact youth through deepening levels of involvement and commitment to personal transformation. Since it targets gang-involved youth, many of whom have been mandated to participate in services through the terms of parole/probation arrangements or court requirements, and some of whom are violent offenders, the LeaderSHIFT program is central to YU’s violence-prevention strategy.