This committee has a history of infusing their voice into existing educational initiatives. In the past, youth commissioners served on the Mayor and County Chair Education Cabinet & Strategy Team, SUN Coordinating Council, and met with all six school district superintendents. By participating on these local initiatives, the MYC added an important missing voice that helped guide the strategies implemented. The Education Committee has played a key role on the Cabinet’s Education Town Hall and Leadership Summit and with the promotion of the “Choose Local” campaign, in which proceeds form the Choose Local card go to local schools and educational programs.
In past years, the YouthVOTE! Committee dedicated most of their time to the development and implementation of Youth Vote Forums with elected officials and candidates running for office. The goal of the forums was to educate youth about the candidates and the importance of voting, and also to hold candidates accountable to the youth they will represent—many of whom cannot vote. At the end of each event, a vote was taken from the youth and results were provided to the larger community. In addition to the forums, the committee worked to get youth registered to vote. After collaboration between the MYC and the film “Papers…,” a documentary on the lives of undocumented youth, the YouthVOTE! Committee became inspired and discussions arose around advocating for the DREAM Act. At the end of the year they changed their name to Youth VOICE!
In the 2012-2013 year, the Education/Youth Voice Committee began by planning and executing a Youth Mayoral Candidate Forum, similar to past Youth Vote Forums. This event drew over 150 young people to learn about and question Mayoral and City Commissioner candidates.
In partnership with Portland State University and the SUN Schools, this committee also lent their perspective to Cradle to Career’s Communities Supporting Youth collaborative, which aims to understand and eliminate chronic absenteeism in schools. “The "Cradle to Career" model looks at student success on a birth to career continuum, considering several points along this path as necessary transition points and areas where students need specific support” (1). Youth commissioners led focus groups with students in target schools, to gain insight into the root causes of chronic absenteeism.
Another aspect of this committee's work was championed by then youth commissioner Erika Molina, who co-facilitated local and national trainings on Youth-Adult Partnership with County staff Marc Fernandes and researcher Julie Petrokubi. Over 50 adults were trained on how to infuse youth voice and partnership into their organizational structures. While Molina is no longer formally a part of the youth commission, she continues to support the work and co-facilitate these trainings.
(1) Portland State University, Success Starts Here