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Authentic Youth Civic Engagement
Detail: What makes youth civic engagement “authentic?” How can cities move beyond token levels of youth participation in local decision-making toward efforts that truly prepare and empower youth to be active, engaged citizens?

“Authentic Youth Civic Engagement: A Guide for Municipal Leaders” published by National League Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) with support from the Surdna Foundation provides a definition and framework for what authentic youth engagement in municipal government can look like.

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 and 2009 informed the guide.

Drawing upon the experiences of communities with the most robust youth engagement initiatives, the guide offers a definition of authentic youth civic engagement (AYCE) in which young people:

• are seen as valuable participants in the work of local government;
• are prepared to take on meaningful roles in addressing relevant issues; and
• work in partnership with adults who respect, listen to and support them.

So how can municipal officials develop or improve their efforts to involve youth in the work of their city government? The guide presents an AYCE framework consisting of four critical elements for a successful initiative:

• A setting in which the civic climate of the community is welcoming and inviting to youth, acknowledging their role in public policy, planning and decision-making;
• A structure in which the organization and system that supports AYCE meets both the needs of the local government and the interests of the young people;
• A strategy that offers a wide range of activities and provides youth with a breadth and depth of meaningful opportunities for participation in local government; and
• Support from adult allies, both within and outside local government, which enables the young people involved in AYCE efforts to have a real impact on issues that concern them.

The framework is enriched by city examples and the voices of youth and adult leaders, and complemented by a broad array of tools and resources found throughout the guide. Readers will learn about important steps cities can take to make local government processes more youth-friendly and how to develop a continuum of opportunities for involvement, consultation, representation and shared leadership.

Details: To download or order a copy of the Authentic Youth Civic Engagement guide, visit For more information, contact Leon T. Andrews Jr., at (202) 626-3039 or
Date: October 13 2010